How I Got Rid of My Credit Debt and 23 Things I Learned While Paying It Off

Debt. Almost everyone has it, and it’s usually credit debt. (If not a student loan or two!) Mine was credit debt, and I’m very pleased and proud to say that, after almost four and a half years of (sometimes backbreaking) monthly payments, as of March 8th (International Women’s Day!), 2018, I’m officially DEBT FREE. Woot! And I finished early. Double woot!

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City Girl Whisky Diary: Unique Whisky Cocktails and Recipes from The Distillery Bar in Vancouver

Mercury is in retrograde: my laptop died on Easter weekend, work’s been a bit crazy, and my left rotator cuff is telling me it needs a little more love. Aside from that, it’s been a pretty good week. But I’m definitely ready to put my my feet up and have a glass of something lovely.

I’m mostly a red wine and dark beer girl, but every now and then I like a fancy cocktail. A Gin and Tonic is usually my favourite, but I’ve come to love whisky cocktails in the last couple years. (This is what happens when you visit Scotland many, many times, and visit a fair amount of distilleries.) Continue reading “City Girl Whisky Diary: Unique Whisky Cocktails and Recipes from The Distillery Bar in Vancouver”

How to Stay Healthy & Happy While Travelling

Travelling is wonderful. But if you get sick in any way while there or right after you get back, not so fun. Some of this can be attributed to jet lag and recycled air on the plane. But over the years I’ve realized that the biggest reason much of the above happens is that while we are doing ourselves a favour by taking a break to go away (for however long), we tend to stop mindfully looking after ourselves when we travel.

Continue reading “How to Stay Healthy & Happy While Travelling”

Blog Pod Fancy Tea at The Secret Garden Tea House

I love tea. I particularly love having tea with friends. I’ve mentioned the Blog Pod that I belong to a few times; these ladies have become a lovely group to get together with, and some of us recently had the opportunity to spend a hygge afternoon enjoying Secret Garden Tea Company‘s High Tea together. One day, all ten of us will be in the same room, but for this day we had me, Karlie, Emily, Po On, Melissa, and Orla.

Continue reading “Blog Pod Fancy Tea at The Secret Garden Tea House”

Six Museums You Must Visit in Seattle and a Budget Friendly Way to Visit Them

We were recently in Seattle, and coincidentally, we were there for the city’s Museum Month. What’s special about that? If you are staying at participating Downtown Seattle hotels, you get a card that entitles you to two admissions to world-class museums for the price of one… for the whole month of February. To state the obvious, it’s an excellent deal, people – #GetThrifty for the win!

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7 Budget Friendly Ways to Experience Barcelona

Winter in Vancouver is down to your bones cold. I’m in the middle of some Sunshine Coast drafts but the windy, rainy weather and the cooking shows I’ve been watching on Netflix have my thoughts straying to the dry heat of Barcelona. As close to a tropical vacation as I’ve had a while, June in this Spanish city was perfect for the girls and me after the unexpected and pelting rain in Paris.

Continue reading “7 Budget Friendly Ways to Experience Barcelona”

Happy December 1st! + #12DaysofHygge Day 1: Merry and Bright Vancouver Christmas Activities

Um, it’s December 1. What?!

While I’m gob-smacked at how quickly December came, this is one of my favourite times of year. I tend to contain my excitement until about December 5 and then let it loose; but because I’ve been planning some holiday season blog stuff since mid-October, my excitement started early. It’s partly the Brit’s fault. He sent me a link in October for a Christmas light event that was starting November 24 and it all snowballed from there…

As part of my exploration (okay, obsession) of hygge, I wanted to share all the things that make me feel happy and cozy, particularly during the holiday season – the most hygge time of the year! Starting today, I’ll be posting every day as part of my #12DaysofHygge. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together! 🙂

Seeing everything lit up and bright is one of the best parts of the season for me, and Metro Vancouver does not have a shortage of lit up events and locations! Here are three of my favourites plus a few more that I hope to get to this December!

Glow Christmas Light Garden and Market

Last year, Vancouver had a light maze and market called Enchant Christmas (which is in Texas this year). This year, we have Glow Christmas (and its over 500,000 lights!) in Langley. While Enchant was outside, Glow is inside the enormous Milner Village Garden Centre greenhouse, which took the experience up a notch in my mind. It was nice to enjoy the lights and market while inside, feeling toasty and warm. The music stage and food trucks are outside, but you can bring everything in, and also enjoy some beverages from the Mistletoe Bar.

We purchased early bird tickets for the first Saturday, which included a food voucher and a complimentary drink each, but the food and beverage prices are reasonable. You can also get a fair amount of Christmas decoration and present shopping done in the market as there are many artisan vendors selling their wares. If you don’t live in the Fraser Valley, I promise you it’s worth the trek sand crossing a bridge or two!

  • Dates: November 24 – December 30
  • Tickets: Various Prices
  • Location: 6690 216 St, Langley
  • Hours and more info can be found here.

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VanDusen Festival of Lights

This is one of my Christmas traditions (usually with my mum, and now with her and the Brit) and I’ve been almost every year for longer than I care to admit. The dancing lights are my favourite part and I like getting a hot chocolate and a warm pretzel to munch on. There are also many areas set up for photo ops and selfies.

It’s a rain or shine event (so bundle up and bring that umbrella!) with a very decently priced entry cost of less than $20 CAD. Which is amazing considering how much power those lights must use, environmentally friendly LED’s or not!

We are going this weekend, so maybe I’ll see you there!

  • Dates: December 1 – January 7
  • Tickets: $18.50 online or $19.00 at the gate
  • Location: 5251 Oak Street (at West 37th Avenue), Vancouver
  • Hours and more info can be found here.

#GetThrifty – Purchase your tickets online. It’s slightly cheaper and less hassle (read: no standing in line at the gate for tickets).

Lights of Hope at St. Paul’s Hospital

If you’re in Downtown Vancouver at night in December, something beautiful that has an amazing purpose is the Lights of Hope display at St. Paul’s Hospital on Burrard Street. Each star is available to be sponsored as a fundraiser for the St. Paul’s Foundation and it’s really stunning to look at. I hope to be able to donate towards a star one day and I love to see them because they remind me of goodness and hope – we need more of that these days. If you are able to do so, it is the 20th year of stars and a lovely cause. More info can be found here: http://lightsofhope.helpstpauls.com/.

  • Location: 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Other Merry and Bright Options in Metro Vancouver

Free Holiday Lights Walking Tour

Hosted by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA). Reserve a free spot and get more info here. (Dec 5, 13, 20 from 4:30-6:00pm)

Vancouver Christmas Market

Located at at Jack Poole Plaza next to Canada Place, this is as close to a traditional German Christmas market as Vancouver gets. It’s great fun and very festive. The Olympic Cauldron is all dressed up in lights as is Canada Place, so it’s all worth checking out! My Swiss friend, Nina, from Nina Worldwide was just there and had the best time! More info can be found here. (Nov 22 – Dec 24) 

Bright Nights at Stanley Park Christmas Train

A lovely family activity put on by the Vancouver Park Board. This fills up quickly, so make sure to get your tickets ASAP! (Nov 30 – Jan 6) 

The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain

Want to see a winter wonderland? This is the place to go. Makes a nice treat date night, and a lot of companies like to do their Christmas parties up there to give their staff some holiday fun. More info can be found here. (Nov 24 – Jan 7)

Orla, my lovely Irish friend from travelorlabout.com was just up at Grouse for her work Christmas party and it looked magical!

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

This is probably the most magical of the light displays, because you are wandering through the treetops in a bright light fairy tale wonderland. I haven’t been in a couple years, but I hope we have time this year. Ticket and additional info can be found here. (Nov 23 – Jan 28)

#GetThrifty – Admission to Canyon Lights is a bit more on the expensive side but if you buy or have an annual pass, that is your ticket for year-round access to the park!

Get on a Boat

There are some Christmas dinner cruises that I hear are worth checking out!

Happy December 1, everyone!

Let your light shine. ~ Matthew 5:16

Purposeful Online Christmas Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us. Are you ready? have you been exploring the pre-sales? Love it or hate it this retail weekend is a fantastic opportunity to Christmas shop in a #GetThrifty manner; particularly online. This year, I’ve decided to a significant portion of my shopping from the comfort of my own home or on my lunch break. I briefly touched on online shopping in my Holiday Season Survival Guide last year, but wanted to expand on it a bit (and share some ideas and deals!). It’s a philosophy that ingrains itself more firmly for me every year – convenience, no people mowing you over to get that last pair of shoes, and it takes a fraction of the time.

But it’s very easy to get carried away because everything is on sale. Are you buying five scarves for gifts because they’re on sale, or are you buying them with purpose? It’s like grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Making a list on my phone is helpful in either shopping scenario, and keeps me on track and on budget.

‘Tis the Season Tip – Something I didn’t do this year, but I like the idea of for next year, is amp up my list by saving things to a private Pinterest board so that I can have images and links for everything all in one place.

BUY WITH PURPOSE

Here are some fun, practical, and unique gift ideas for the special people in your life. Since they all can apply to anyone, I’ve listed them in categories as opposed to by type of person.

Gifts That Give Back | Create and Experience | Capture a Memory

Create Choice | Stocking Stuffers |Travel

GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK

These are thoughtful options that make an impact as a big family group gift, or if you are buying for someone with a philanthropic heart, or to honour someone’s memory.

  • Donate to a Cause – Make a donation to the person’s favourite a favourite or meaningful charity.
  • Make and Impact with WE.orgBuy a goat or a clean water well for a family, or purchase some quality handmade jewelry (made by African artisans) for the females in your life. Anything you buy has a positive social impact in Africa and other countries that WE.org works in (including Canada, because they are Canadian!), and that specific impact can be tracked online so you can see your contribution in action. I love this organization so much and did some work with them at my old company. I buy a couple goats and a time’s worth of school lunch for a child in need on behalf of my family every year, and like donating at this time of year because they double your impact. Check it out!

CREATE AN EXPERIENCE

In a world where we are trying to be ‘greener’, and also trying to offset the ridiculousness

  • Guitar lessons (or any lessons that strike their fancy)
  • Tickets to a concert or a show
  • Create a date night
  • Yoga pass or a yoga mat
  • Food tour – check out Eating London and Vancouver Food Tour!
  • Winery or brewery tour
  • An excursion of some sort
  • Photo session with a photographer

‘Tis the Season Tip – To plump up what I would call an ‘envelope gift’, make some tasty cookies or other holiday treats and package them up in a cute tin. Or add a nice bottle of wine. Always a winner.

CAPTURE A MEMORY

  • Constellation Map from The Night Sky (https://thenightsky.com/) – Not quite sure my dad knows what a blog is and my step-mum isn’t on social media, so I can safely say that I just bought one of these to  commemorate the day they (finally) got married. You can choose a date and location and it makes a constellation map of what the sky looked like that night. Shipping is free (US, Canada, Europe, etc) and they are having Black Friday sale until Sunday with promo code NOVA for 15% off. There will possibly also be a Cyber Monday sale, but 15% off isn’t something to sneeze at! 😉
  • Photo Finish – Get a large print or canvas made of a special day or of the grandkids. Your local photo shop (yes they still exist!) will do large prints and possibly canvases, but there are also online canvas sites that are likely having great sales and that also do Groupon codes. I am not recommending the site I used for something last year as it was a semi-horrendous experience, but I’d love to hear if you find a great site that you would recommend!

CREATE CHOICE

I know gift cards and e-gift cards seem impersonal, but hear me out. A gift card doesn’t mean you didn’t put thought into it. Yes, there is convenience, but more so, they are great if you know where they like to shop, but don’t know what to get them and also make fantastic stocking stuffers or nice appreciation gifts for staff. We are living in a world where things are very expensive. Helping your college age sibling or your assistant fuel up their mornings with a nicely summed Starbucks card or to buy something nice for themselves from a favourite shop is pretty great.

Some good gift card ideas are:

‘Tis the Season Tip –  For how you want to package gift cards, for my 30th a couple years ago, one of my friends (who is very crafty) made me a beautiful card and it had slots for three gift cards, each for $10. I thought I’d taken a picture of it but here is something similar on Pinterest!

STOCKING STUFFERS

I love going through my stocking at Christmas. Partly because my mum makes beautiful stockings (and will one day finally let me open an Etsy store for her) that hold a lot, and partly because I like the tradition of it. My step-mum is really good at stocking stuffers.

  • Socks – I love getting socks for Christmas. About 5 years ago, my mum didn’t give me socks but gave some to my then partner, and while I loved what she had given me, my face actually fell when I saw I hadn’t gotten any, too. It’s silly, I know. But my mum has not skipped the socks since then.

Friday Sock Co.(https://www.fridaysock.co/) is my  new favourite place to get socks. They are a Calgary based company owned by a friend and her husband. They purposefully mismatched socks for adults and kids that are designed in Canada and ethically made in Italy out of soft cotton yarn. The designs are clever and there’s something for everyone. They are having a Black Friday sale with 40% of select styles – check them out! I love mine and may or may not have added a couple pairs for myself when I made submitted my order last week…

    • Accessories at NORDSTORM.com – For some luxury brands at a #GetThrifty sale price, this is the place to buy some stocking stuffers like scarves, socks, the whole gamut!
    • Gift CardsSee above.
    • Hobby Accessories – Your home-brewer, baker, yogi, builder, writer, traveller, soap-maker or whatever they are will definitely appreciate the little knickknacks  or books that make their hobby or pursuit easier and more fun!

  • Black Friday: the deals you've been waiting for!
    • A Bottle – Wine, beer, a favourite whisky.
    • Travel Accessories – Also mentioned below. These are wonderful stocking stuffers! Check out my Travel Essentials page for some great options!
    • iPhone Battery Case – So a happy traveller or someone who just uses their phone a lot or on the road doesn’t have to worry about needing to plug in to charge!

TRAVEL

You can check out my my Travel Essentials post for my favourite things, but here are some quick links for things to get your happy traveller!

  • Passport Holder – I love my red leather passport holder. It’s one of the best gifts that my mum has ever given to me. Click here for a great option for women and here for a men’s option.
  • LuggageAmazon has great luggage sets on sale right now and Away has some great sets that are good value for money. (Their carry-on has a USB outlet in it so you can charge your phone!)
  • Travel Site Gift Card – Help your traveller get a good flight, fab accommodations, or book a fun excursion! Some good options are:
  • Travel Accessories– Compression bags, packing modules, iPhone Battery Case,  travel toiletry sets, you name it, Amazon has got it. Really, you could just do all your shopping there. 😉

And that’s my download – phew!

Sometimes shopping needs to be a bit more sensory, but that’s what lunch break scouting trips are for so you can check out the goods in peace before they go on sale. Then you can purchase from the comfort of your own home or office, usually ON SALE, and in way less time and stress than in store.

And if you happen to be away from home at Christmas, or are visiting family but don’t want to take everything on the plane? Send everything there! Boom.

Good luck, everyone! May the shopping force be with you! 😉

4 Fabulous Girls’ Night Out Options in London

Having travelled solo a fair amount, I am comfortable being in my own company; but there are many times when I’ve been away and wanted to share a moment, or just have someone (that I know) to talk to. Be that partner or friend. That’s why I loved being on the recent trip with my girlfriends, particularly when we were in London. It was really wonderful to share a city that I’ve become quite fond of with some of my favourite people.

I’m currently exploring the Danish concept of hygge (hue-guh or hoo-guh) and a big aspect of this is togetherness. London is a city that inspires going out for a pint or a bite to eat with friends and is a great place to be with your tribe. We had three proper girls’ nights in London and I definitely recommend them as yours as well! These are also great outings – in any city – to celebrate the holiday season with friends or with work colleagues. 🙂

Dinner and a Show

Seeing a show isn’t the most social of activities, but you go for a pre-show dinner or drinks and talk about the show over more drinks and food afterward. It’s a really nice girls’ night out (like my recent Jersey Boys outing in Vancouver with my mum!) or date night option. Broadway is amazing, but the architecture of London’s West End theatres tips its end of the scale more so in my favour.

Dominion Theatre
The Dominion Theatre (Photo provided by The Corner Shop PR)

A prime example of this architecture is the recently restored Dominion Theatre, currently home to the fabulous musical An American in Paris*. The girls and I had the opportunity to go and see the show while we were in London and it was STUNNING. Gene Kelly would have been so proud.

One of the best feelings in the world is when your heart fills up with so much joy that all you can do is smile a stupid smile. That is how I feel when I’m at a wedding, when I think of my guy, and when I watch live theatre or a ballet. I never really enjoyed performing but I have so much appreciation for those who do it well and for all the behind-the-scenes work. This was genuinely the best stage musical I have seen in a long time – I couldn’t stop smiling. The set and technology, choreography, acting, and all that lovely Gershwin Music… All framed by the Dominion’s flame red and gold interior in all its art deco glory.

The cast of An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre CREDIT Tristram Kenton
A scene from An American In Paris by George and Ira Gershwin @ Dominion Theatre. Directed and Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. (Opening 21-03-17) ©Tristram Kenton

I was really looking forward to seeing the exterior of Dominion, the but with old buildings comes the need for restoration, so the exterior looked like this:

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It now looks like this:

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The Dominion Theatre (Photo provided by The Corner Shop PR)

If you’re in London this winter, make sure you go see An American in Paris before it ends its West End engagement on January 6, 2018! More info on the show and how to buy tickets can be found here.

‘Tis the Season Tip – Theatre tickets are the perfect stocking stuffer for the musical lover or the kids in your life!

(*This girls’ night out to see An American in Paris was made possible by The Corner Shop PR.  As always, opinions are my own.)

We didn’t have time for a pre-show dinner, but stumbled upon a cute little Italian place in Soho called Il Cucciolo (8 Old Compton St, London) after the show. Cheap, cheerful, and sizeable pasta portions – my kind of place. I’m so happy we found this little gem!

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Very happy eaters at Il Cucciolo

#GetThrifty and Fancy! – If we’d had time before the show, I would have suggested having a treat dinner at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon (13-15 West St., London) in Soho. They have a great pre-show prix fixe menu for £35, which is an amazing #GetThrifty price considering it’s a Michelin star restaurant. (I ate there a couple years ago at the suggestion of a family friend, and it was good value for money, delicious, and their wait staff is wonderful.) Reservations are highly recommenced!

We ended the evening going back to food tour favourite, La Bodega Negra (16 Moor Street, London) for some margaritas. It was a fantastic evening out!

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Margaritas at Bodega Negra

Food & Cocktails Tour

Web:https://eatinglondontours.co.uk

Our Twilight Soho Food and Cocktail Tour with Eating Europe was one of my favourite excursions from this trip. I don’t think we really knew what we were getting into, but it surpassed expectations! We ended up staying at one of my the establishments they brought us to (Basement Sate), because it made us feel like we were Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda – and the G&T’s were superb. Check out my review of the tour and the list of restaurants and bars they took us to.

‘Tis the Season Tip – They will be having a Cyber Monday Sale, so make sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can get a sweet deal for the next time you’re in the city or are a local wanting to have a fun date night!

Gordon’s Wine Bar

Address: 47 Villiers Street, London / Web: https://gordonswinebar.com/

Gordon’s is one of my favourite London spots. It’s considered the oldest wine bar in London and is in a cave by the Thames and is one of the best bars in the city. The wine list is varied and lovely, the charcuterie and cheese are excellent, but they don’t take table reservations. They are also open for lunch. All of these factors make it quite popular.

Thursday seems to be the new Friday in big cities, so I was worried we wouldn’t get in. But there was an ‘important’ football (soccer) match on TV that night. And Gordon’s doesn’t have a single screen. So grazie mille to Juventus for making it so we could get a prime cave table on a summer Thursday at 8pm!

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Candles make for the best lighting!

#GetThrifty – If you’re in a group of four like we were, it’s much more cost effective to order by the bottle. It also makes for fun photos because the lighting is very moody with candles in old bottles.

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Pouring wine is serious business

In the summer they also have what they call their ‘Terrace’ (which is really an alley-way, but the safest alley-way you will ever be in) open just outside, with a special grill menu. (Brave the Terrace in the rain, if you must – some people do!) They serve their charcuterie and cheese boards all year round, and apparently have a Sunday Roast for £10.95, which is a pretty great deal.

They do take group bookings for 8-10 people for what they call ‘The Cage‘. The name of the room intrigues me enough to makes me wish I was there now so I could book my work team in for a Christmas lunch!

Something important to keep in mind is that Gordon’s Closes at 11pm, but it’s a great spot for a girls’ night, and if you’re going on a date, you’ll likely get bonus points if you get a good table! 😉 (When we were there, there was a first date a table over from us, and it was going very well…)

Because it was fab in Glasgow… 

I talked a bit about Wetherspoon’s in my Glasgow bus tour post and the fact that it’s an excellent #GetThrifty option. While we didn’t go to one in London, I’m positive that we would have had just as amazing of a time as we did at their Counting House in Glasgow. (They also have a great G&T.)

The service is good, the food and beverage are good and very decently priced, and the buildings they choose for their establishments are always interesting as they are restored old buildings (cinemas, banks, etc). They also have an order/pay app, which is great if you’re not wanting to leave a good conversation to wait at the bar to order drinks.

The Soho/West End/Covent Garden options that I have found are Montagu Pyke, Shakespeare’s Head, and The Moon Under Water. If you get to one, let me know how you go!

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.

– William Shakespeare

Sunshine Coast Road Trip – Where to stay, eat and explore in Powell River

With the goal of unplugging and getting our hygge on, the Brit and I went on a Sunshine Coast road trip this past Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. While it was odd not having a turkey dinner, we had the best time exploring the area and being with each other. I was doing an Instagram takeover for Townsite Brewing, so unplugging was a bit of a challenge, but the other half of the goal was very successful! We had a cozy place to stay, good food, and got out into the trees.

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We spent most of the weekend on the North Coast in Powell River – a town I don’t think I’d been to since I was a kid. If ever. And you know what? It’s a really fantastic place. Research combined with some fruitful suggestions from locals (both in person and via Instagram – thank you!!) gave us an amazing and budget-friendly road trip away from the city.

LOGISTICS

Getting There – Two options:

Surf & Turf – It takes two BC Ferry crossings and some scenic driving to get to Powell River from Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver), or one crossing and some driving from Comox (Vancouver Island’s east coast). It’s a pretty journey, regardless of weather, and schedules can be found here. For the first ferry crossing from Vancouver and to come back to the mainland it is HIGHLY recommended that you make a car reservation at least a couple weeks in advance for both ways. We ended up having to get up fantastically early to catch the first ferry of the day as we couldn’t make a reservation one week out.

#GetThrifty – BC Ferries occasionally offers discounts at certain times of year and times of day, so be sure to check that out to save some pennies!

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Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal

Wings – Flying is a pretty swish way to get there, but swish is expensive. Particularly since you’d need to rent a car to get yourself anywhere on the Coast when you landed.

Where to Stay:

Airbnb – This is my favourite source for accommodation, and the one I find the most economical and convenient. There’s always the most unique kinds of places, and you an make your own food. We stayed in the cutest cottage that reminded me of the Weasley House in Harry Potter. It was right on Marine Avenue (the main drag), right across from some great restaurants I’ll talk about in a second, and a short walk to the beach and a great trail. There are many Airbnb’s listed for the area so you can choose one that suits your taste!

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Our Airbnb cottage couldn’t have been any cozier!

Willingdon Beach Campsite (4845 Marine Ave., Powell River) – If camping strikes your fancy, this is a year-round campsite that has great reviews and is right by the beach and all the amenities of town. If you’re keen on keeping up with your gym time, there’s also an outdoor gym type area.

The Old Courthouse Inn (6243 Walnut St., Powell River) – This hotel is in the historical Townsite area of Powell River, and is apparently quite nice (and perhaps a bit haunted!) We didn’t have a chance to check it out, but one of my colleagues gave it a big thumbs up and it has great reviews on TripAdvisor. It’s a two-second walk to the brewery and the nearby restaurants and 5-10 minute drive into town. The price point is also very good.

There are other bed and breakfasts and hotels in the area and you can check out their reviews and prices here at TripAdvisor.

FUEL UP

There are some restaurant gems in this town! I always love being pleasantly surprised by the food scene in any place, and Powell River did not disappoint! Cheap and cheerful, quality food options.

Costa de Sol (4578 Marine Ave, Powell River)

This was a recommendation from so many people on Instagram. If you’d told me I would find authentic Mexican and Latin food in Powell River, I wouldn’t have believed you. But Costa del Sol made a flavourful impression on me. We had a late lunch there after we checked in to our little Airbnb cottage as it was just down the block. The tacos and their respective fillings were fresh and on point! Make sure you have a Premium Traditional Margarita, as it is quite good. (Allergy Alert: This drink contains egg whites for some froth, so if you’re allergic to eggs, be sure to ask them to modify the drink for you.)

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Tacos at Costa del Sol

Little Hut Curry (4623 Marine AvePowell River)

Also a nice surprise and down the block from our Airbnb was Little Hut Curry. Michelle at Townsite recommended this cute little Indian restaurant to us and I’m so glad she did! With 4:30-8:30pm hours and fabulous butter chicken, the menu is very concise and all the meals come with naan, rice and veg, a salad, and The Brit’s favourite: papadoms. They have a five-star rating on TripAdvisor, which I look forward to contributing to again, when we go back to have a sit-down meal.

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#GetThrifty – You can get two takeout meals for $30, all in. *mic drop*

Tree Frog Bistro (4603 Marine Ave, Powell River)

The Tree Frog was right across from our Airbnb, so we couldn’t not go. I am all about brunch, and they have a good one with perfectly poached eggs on their hash. They also make their own tangy ketchup. I was in heaven. It was the perfect way to fuel up for our wander along the Willingdon Beach Trail. They also have cheap but quality mimosas. Vitamin C and bubbly – all you need, right?

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Brunch at The Tree Frog

Magpie’s Diner (6762 Cranberry St, Powell River)

Of all the places that were recommended to me, this diner had the most recommendations. And there’s no wonder why because it’s awesome. Huge portions of freshly made comfort food, good price point, and though everyone needs to experience a greasy spoon diner, this is a high-ceilinged airy space with books everywhere and bright walls. This is where you want to fuel up either before or after a hike at Valentine Mountain (see below).

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On the list for next time: The Modern Peasant and Coastal Cookery.

STRETCH YOUR LEGS

Valentine Mountain – This hike was recommended to me on Instagram in tandem with the many recommendations for Magpie’s Diner. (Where you should go either before or after this lovely hike!) The trail itself is easy, but then you’ll hit the stairs. Stairs and I have a love-hate relationship, no matter how much hiking I do. But I do them. And it’s always worth it for the view. Like this one:

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Worth the stair climb!

Willingdon Beach Trail – Willingdon Beach Trail is located, obviously, at Willingdon Beach, which runs parallel to Marine Avenue and the beach itself. It’s an easy trail that starts at the campsite and finishes in the historic Townsite area (about an hour’s walk). It used to be a logging railway from when Powell River used to be a booming industry town, and its history is represented by all the old machines peppered along the trail. These machines are also home to brave little squirrels who like to come out and say hello and sniff your shoes.

 

Make sure you jump off the path when you get to Second Beach. It’s a lovely spot for photos and you can add to the Jenga like structures of the stone cairns

 

The trail is very informative and interactive and has a beautiful variety of trees. Once you get out of the trees you’ll see ‘The Hulks’ – the concrete ships. (They are a bit eery looking, but you know you’re almost at the historic Townsite area when you get to them.)

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On the list for next time: Inland Lake Provincial Park as part of the Sunshine Coast Trail.

GET HISTORIC

Townsite Heritage District – Whether you’re staying at The Old Courthouse Inn, driving in from town, or coming through from the Willingdon Beach Trail, you should explore the Townsite area. It is the only National Historic Site in Western Canada and there is quite an impressive history attached to it. I wish we had stayed an extra day so we could do a proper walking tour and check out some restaurants.

On the list for next time: Visiting the Powell River Museum and seeing a movie at the 100+ year old Patricia Theatre (where John Barrymore once visited! Also, it’s the oldest operating theatre in Canada!)

QUENCH YOUR THIRST

Townsite Brewing (5824 Ash Ave., Powell River) – Located in the Townsite Heritage District and housed in the old Townsite Building (a beautiful brick structure that used to be, among other things, the post office in the town’s historic heyday), Townsite Brewing is a must visit. There is a free tour on Saturdays at 3pm, and the tasting room is perfect for a #pintandaflight (obviously) and a locally baked soft pretzel.

 

 

My favourite of the craft beer selections on tap was the Perfect Storm Stout (both the original and barrel aged!), and the Brit’s was the Tinhat IPA. It’s a fantastic community gathering spot, and you will feel like a local the second you walk in. Especially when you order dinner for pick-up or delivery from one of the nearby restaurants. (We ordered from Mckinney’s – thumbs up!) Check out my guest post on Townsite’s blog about the tasting room being the perfect place to get your hygge on!

Side Note: Townsite Brewing is also a member of ÉCONOMUSÉE, which promotes BC artisans in rural communities by showcasing their workshops virtually and through English and French educational tools and signage at the physical workshops. It’s a neat initiative.

GO THE EXTRA MILE

About a 30-minute drive north of Powell River proper is a little seaside village called Lund, named by its founders after a town in Sweden. If it wasn’t Mile Zero of Highway 101 (and the gateway to Desolation Sound and everything northward), you would blink and miss it and its 300 full-time residents. But you shouldn’t miss it. It’s adorable and from what we saw, a great place to hike, boat, kayak, and just plain relax. The hotel and restaurant have been around since the 1880’s, and there is a great bakery called Nancy’s that has excellent cookies.

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On the list for next time: My old boss lives in Lund now, and he owns a piece of land that he has developed into a mini resort called Finn Bay Farm. We took a quick spin through through the property and it looks like the perfect getaway with its yurts and cabins.

The Sunshine Coast is a prime example of why my province is called Beautiful or Supernatural British Columbia. No filters needed!

If you’re looking for a scenic weekend getaway that won’t reach too deeply into your wallet, Powell River is a destination that appeals to both outdoorsy and city slicker types. For more information on Powell River and the North Coast, visit http://powellriver.info/ and/or https://sunshinecoastcanada.com/explore/north-coast/powell-river/.

This is why the license plates say Beautiful British Columbia, and I realized just how much I would miss it.

~Michael J. Fox