Tag: Canada

A Weekend in Buffalo, New York

A Weekend in Buffalo, New York

Over Memorial Day weekend I flew to New York for one of my best friend’s weddings! Spending three days in the area was the perfect amount of time to explore and see all the sights. Here’s a day-by-day account of my trip along with my favorite things to do in Buffalo!

DAY 1: Wedding Day in Lockport, NY

We flew out from California on Friday afternoon and got into Buffalo at 1 AM on Saturday and drove to our hotel in Lockport, NY. I was so excited to see two of my wonderful friends, and the next morning we met up at the maid of honor’s house to get ready for the big day. 

It had been raining before we arrived, but it cleared up and the sun came out just in time! Everything was laid out so beautifully for the ceremony on the Erie Canal, and afterwards we all piled into a paddleboat for cocktail hour and went through the locks on the canal. 

DAY 2: Buffalo, NY

We did a little bit of exploring around Buffalo, and for your morning coffee and pastries you should definitely try Tim Horton’s Iced Capp! Walking along Canalside there’s some food trucks and a lot of water sports you can try out, and fun areas with giant board games. One of our favorite things to do was going brewery hopping, my favorites including Big Ditch Brewing Company for some great food to pair with drinks and Thin Man Brewery, which is also a late-night bar with live music. And, of course, you have to try some buffalo wings while you’re in… Buffalo! So head to Anchor Bar!

Day 3: Niagara Falls

The best way to see Niagara Falls is to view it from the Canadian side, and you can hop over the border and back in a matter of a few hours. We parked near the border on the American side of Rainbow Bridge and walked over to the other side into Canada, which has a beautiful view of the falls as well. Make sure you bring your passport! 

After going through border patrol we walked down the road about 20 minutes to the Canadian visitor center, where we bought tickets to Journey Behind the Falls. The self-guided tour is a great way to see the falls from the bottom. I’d rather do this tour than the Hornblower, where you usually wait in a line that’s 3 hours long, since you’re packed like sardines on a boat ride to get drenched. At least with Journey Behind the Falls you can get drenched on your own time!

After seeing the Canadian side, we headed back to the falls on the American side to see Goat Island, another viewing point. It’s a pretty area to walk around but unfortunately you’re looking down at the falls so you don’t get to see much of the actual waterfall.

Our flight took off in the evening so it was a great weekend trip to see all the main sights, and of course to see my beautiful best friend get married! 🙂 

I also made a vlog on my YouTube channel so check it out!

Tips for Hiking Joffre Lakes

Tips for Hiking Joffre Lakes

One of the most sought out natural attractions in Canada is to see the vivid turquoise lakes. Some of the most popular include Lake Louise and Jasper National Park in Alberta, but they can be hard to reach in a limited amount of time. Fortunately, if you’re on the west coast you can make an easy hour and a half drive from Whistler up to Joffre Lakes near Pemberton, British Columbia! 

  1. Unless you’re visiting in the heart of summer, pack winter hiking gear. Since you get pretty high up in the mountains, there’s a lot of snow on the trail even through May! Bring crampons or snowshoes since the trail gets pretty steep and slippery. It’s also wise to take a Winter Mountaineering class so you can be prepared.  
    Middle Joffre Lake

     

  2. Pick up a trail map. If you’re hiking during the summer, the trail is pretty well-marked but if making the trek during the winter, it’s easy to get lost on the trail. Take a picture of the map at the trail head prior to hiking or you can find some good information on Whistler Hiatus.   
    Upper Joffre Lake

     

  3. Each lake is more beautiful than the last. There are three lakes along the trail, and each lake becomes more vibrant and the scenery is even more beautiful than the previous ones. Reaching the final lake and seeing the magnificent glacier makes the long trek worthwhile. As an experienced hiker, I was able to reach Upper Joffre Lake in an hour and a half but allow at least 2 hours to reach the top!  
    Waterfall alongside trail between Middle and Upper Joffre Lake

     

  4. For the most vivid shades of turquoise, hike in the summer. As beautiful as it was in the winter, Lower Joffre Lake and Upper Joffre Lake were frozen over but you could see the bright turquoise waters through the cracks in the ice. Middle Joffre Lake was a stunning emerald color but I was wishing it were warm enough to jump in!

 

Props to my roommate from college putting up with being dragged all over BC 🙂
Top Travels of 2016

Top Travels of 2016

Death Valley, CA – March 2016

It’s crazy to see such diverse landscapes all over California! This was my first time visiting Death Valley because I wanted to see the Super Bloom with my friend Shandra (@HowIWishIWasAFish)! The Super Bloom only happens once every ten years, and the whole valley springs to life with beautiful fields of yellow flowers. 

Photo by Shandra (@Howiwishiwasafish)

San Francisco, CA – April 2016

Even though I’ve lived in California my whole life, I’ve never actually explored this city, believe it or not! I was here for a Structural Engineering event, but it was a great weekend getaway to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown. Not to mention the man of my dreams asked me to be his 🙂

Whistler, Canada – April 2016

A beautiful weekend in BC backpacking through the wilderness. It’s an easy drive from Vancouver, but a not-so-easy hike to see vivid turquoise lakes; I highly recommend checking out Joffre Lakes during the summer! Another great hike to do is the Keyhole Hot Springs, where you can camp along the river.

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua – May 2016

A must-see place for travelers who enjoy getting off the beaten path at a cheap price. One of the most beautiful, remote islands I’ve ever been to, Little Corn has great lobster meals, amazing diving, and warm ocean waters. Even though there’s no electricity during the day or running water, it was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been, not to mention we stayed in a bungalow right on the beach for $10 per night!

Tam Cốc-Bích Động, Vietnam – July 2016

Although Halong Bay was beautiful, I couldn’t help but to feel like a tourist being shuffled along with hundreds of other people – it just didn’t feel like an authentic experience. One of my favorite places in Vietnam though was Tam Coc, and a Vietnamese man paddled a tin canoe with his feet down a river through the beautiful Vietnamese countryside. 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – August 2016

I was so stoked to not only check off the Olympics from my bucket list, but also go to my first South American country! I will admit the focus was on hockey more than getting to really experience Rio since my cousins are on the US national team, but it was a great time getting to experience this lively city and the Olympics. 

Page, AZ – August 2016

This was an awesome (but exhausting) weekend road trip with my man, sister, and best friend. We crammed Zion National Park, Lower Antelope Canyon, and camped at Lake Powell all in one weekend, but Lower Antelope Canyon was probably my favorite. I highly recommend doing the photography tour so you get more time to photograph the beautiful canyon, plus you don’t get all the insane crowds and people running into your photo.

Sacramento, CA – September 2016

This wasn’t really a travel destination per say, but I finally moved from my beloved hometown in Southern California after so many years! I am happy to say that Sacramento is my new home and so far everything is great. I love that I can walk downstairs from my apartment and there’s so many breweries and fun restaurants you can check out without having to drive anywhere! I do miss the ocean, but for now, I’m enjoying city life.

Baños, Ecuador – September 2016

I love going to backpacker havens where few tourists go, so naturally the “Adventure Capital of South America” was a big draw for me. There are so many outdoorsy activities, like hiking, white water rafting, zip lining, bungee jumping, and hot springs, that you could never get bored here. We even opted for a jungle tour of the Amazon Rainforest, and everything was so cheap we were paying in pennies everywhere we went. And of course, the famous treehouse swing “at the end of the world” is something you can’t miss!

Maui, HI – October 2016

I love tropical islands and scuba diving, and since I tagged along with my man to Maui for a week for an engineering convention, I decided to spend some time getting my Advanced Open Water Diver certification! People ask me, so what does that certification do for you? Not much, really, except go on advanced dives that require the cert and it’s one step closer to getting my dive master certification!

Havana, Cuba – December 2016

I had to check out Cuba before the huge flood of tourists since it’s slowly opening up, so I made Havana a priority this year. It was a completely different experience getting to see all the classic cars and how communism and the embargo has affected the country, but it was worth it. Unfortunately the food was a little disappointing, but the mojitos were amazing!

Looking forward to a new year of travels ahead! Next month I’m heading to Indonesia!

Where are you planning to travel this year?

A Weekend in Vancouver

A Weekend in Vancouver

For those of us on the West Coast looking for a weekend adventure in another country, how about Vancouver? The following post is my experience spending a weekend in British Columbia.

I arrived in Vancouver from LAX at about 9:30 PM Friday night, rented a car, and made my way to Cambie Gastown Hostel. The downstairs portion is a raging bar filled with young travelers, and it’s apparently one of the most happening places to be on a weekend night. The upstairs part is the actual bar. I locked my stuff to my bunk in my dorm, and headed downstairs to mingle. The Canadians are incredibly friendly, and I made some interesting new friends.

5:30 AM the next day, I headed north past Whistler to hike up to Joffre Lakes. I’ve always wanted to see one of the famous turquoise blue lakes, but unfortunately it was late April and there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground and the lakes were frozen over. It took about 2 1/2 hours from Vancouver to drive to the Joffre Lakes trail head. Each lake is more beautiful than the last. The first one is about 5 minutes into the hike, the second is about an hour in, and the third takes an hour and a half. The second lake is a bright emerald green and the third is the coveted turquoise blue – you could see the colors peeking through the ice. The trail was consistently switching back and forth between flat and a steep climb, so make sure you wear the proper shoes!

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It was about lunchtime when I drove from Joffre Lakes trail head to Keyhole Hot Springs, two hours west. The majority of the drive was actually driving on some old dirt fire roads through the forest, so it’s a beautiful drive, but I was wondering if I was going the right way for a solid hour. There was a lot of construction going on near the trail head, so fortunately they were able to tell me that I was at the correct location.

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I asked someone at the trail head how long it takes to get to the hot springs, and they said fifteen minutes – don’t let them fool you! It took a little over an hour (and I’m a pretty fast hiker). It weaves around a forest next to the Lillooet River, and there are bright colored tags tied to trees to help find your way. You finally arrive at a campsite and continue on down the slope to reach the hot springs. There are three cascading that are the furthest out of all the hot springs that are the best. The top is way too hot, the middle is pretty hot but manageable if you dump some of the freezing river water into it (there’s a bucket tied up nearby), and the lowest is the perfect temperature. It was beautiful sitting there in silence, watching the river rush by.

I stayed the night in Whistler (I would have camped if I knew about the campsite at the hot springs) which was about another 2 hour drive from the hot springs south. And the next morning on Sunday I drove back to Vancouver to check out the Capilano suspension bridge. The earlier you go, the less tourists there are so you can get a great shot of the bridge without a ton of people there! The rest of the early afternoon was spent at the restaurant Tap & Barrel, which had a great drink tasting selection, delicious appetizers, and a library vibe over the harbor. Flew out of Vancouver at 4 and made it back to LAX in the evening!

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Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

For 4th of July weekend, Eddie and I took a redeye flight out to Baltimore to meet up with our parents, which was also where the plane was stored. We flew the Mooney to Niagra Falls airport near Buffalo, NY and took a cab into the city. Rather than staying on the American side of the falls, we walked over Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian border and had a fantastic view.
I called up two of my friends, Wes and Emma, that live in the Buffalo area to catch up and hang out. I had to take a bus to the Canadian border, walk over and get brutally questioned, then they picked me up and took me to the town they live. We had a traditional Buffalo style pizza and chicken wings, which was so delicious. Emma lives on a 20 acre property out in the country side with the woods as her backyard and as the sun set, the fireflies lit up the huge trees.
The next day Dad bought a Niagara Falls pass so we toured the caves behind the falls, Hornblower, whirlpool walk, and some others that were included. We pretty much did every touristy thing that had to do with the falls so I was ready to relax after!
I had to go to work on Monday so Dad flew Eddie and me out to Baltimore for our flight. Since we had about 7 hours to kill, Eddie and I drove out to Washington D.C. for the day to do some sightseeing. It was a great weekend and I’m excited for some more adventures soon!
Niagara Falls 1 Niagara Falls 2