Vancouver Island- including Clover Point parkrun- I love Canada!

Our 5 and a bit hour flight from Hawaii landed at goodness knows what time on Wednesday morning, and after getting our bags (super quickly) and picking up the hire car, we drove straight to the ferry port to get a boat over to Vancouver Island.

I had slept a little bit on the flight, but standing on the deck in the sunshine with the breeze blowing was just what I needed to wake me up properly. The ferries are brilliant- very scenic and most times we have been on one there has been a naturalist doing a talk – this one was about seagrass and why that habitat is so important for different species. While on the deck we saw a few creatures but they were too far away to identify (dolphins or whales). There were lots of seals on a big rock half way over too. Andy had got something for breakfast at the airport but I was feeling a bit ropey so I just had a little bit of his tea. As we were driving to Victoria we saw a big shopping place (Uptown) so we stopped there for a walk around and to get something to eat, and a few bits as we had a little apartment in Victoria.

I had been really looking forward to my first London fog- it’s a tea latte made with steamed vanilla milk and Earl grey, and it’s gorgeous. The Wholefoods had a little cafe in it, so I got one there and it didn’t disappoint! As we couldn’t check in until 3pm, we parked by the coast and walked along, seeing loads of kites and looking across the sea to Olympic National Park in Washington State.

I was planning on going to Clover Point parkrun but it looked a bit far from where we were staying and I thought I was going to have to look up bus timetables etc, but we realised that we had walked around the parkrun start, and it was only 3km away, so I could comfortably run there and back- phew.

We checked in to our airBnB, had a wander, went to a build your own burger place for dinner (and in case you wondered, yes a veggie burger with pineapple, avocado and pickles is very delicious), and walked by the docks and along the main Government street.

We had bought a couple of cakes from a cupcake place in the Uptown shopping place, so shared one later on too (it was pineapple with coconut frosting), and saved the other one (red velvet) for another day.

On Thursday we decided to have a day in Victoria, as we’d only been there for a day before. We walked to Beacon Hill park in Victoria and had a lovely wander. It was full of flowers, lots of paths to walk around, had interesting features such as the biggest totem pole in the world (although it was having some construction work done around it so was next to a big crane). We saw a snake on the path, and loads of black squirrels.

I had to get my London fog fix, so we went to Murchie’s which is a tea shop, cafe and also retail store. We shared a scone too, and Andy tried a maple latte which was their black maple tea made into a latte (I tried some and it was good- surprisingly not too sweet). They wrote on the cups so we could tell which was which! We did a bit of shopping- David’s tea and also a tea shop called Silk Road which seemed to be a bit of a cult favourite.

 On Friday I went on a run to the coast, mainly to suss out my route to parkrun. I didn’t get roaming in Canada (on my phone), and although I had downloaded the map, the walking directions didn’t work once I was away from the wifi, so I was glad I had worked that out before.

It was a beautiful day, blue skies and a calm looking sea.

We drove up to the shopping centre (why is it called Uptown though, as of course I got that song stuck in my head) as we both fancied getting a few bits from Roots (they do super warm cosy hoodies)- they were having a sale and so we each bought a couple of things and I did have a slight panic about fitting it all in our suitcases when the lady said she would go and get a bigger bag!

We then drove out to Goldstream Provincial park, a little north of Victoria. We had a walk through the woods, a mooch around the information centre, and then tried to find the parking for the waterfall hike (apparently on the other side of the highway) but couldn’t, so headed back to Victoria.

In the evening we had another wander around Victoria, walking around the edge of the harbour as the sun was going down.

When we got back to the centre there was a lot going on, with a little market and some live singers and musicians. We couldn’t hang about for ages as we had to get back to pack.

We did pop in to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a giant peanut butter cup- we shared this once we had done our packing (a good incentive to do it quickly). Thankfully even with the late purchases of bulky hoodies our cases closed!

On Saturday I was up early to get to parkrun, as Clover Point started at 8am (I checked that so many times)- the run there was great and once at the start I chatted to a few tourists and local runners. It was a really friendly event- their tail walker had a home-made t-shirt with parkrun advertised on it (free weekly 5k + the address) and he was so friendly, welcoming everyone and taking photos of people with the selfie frame.  The main briefing began with an acknowledgement that we were on First Nations land, and then went on to be the typical parkrun. It is a fairly small event (the week before was their first birthday and they ad a record 77 runners- one week they had 6 runners!) which did surprise me as I saw loads of runners in Victoria, and there is a Running Room (a running shop) which offered free runs each week. Maybe it just takes a while for the word of mouth to spread, and where it starts is not next to lots of shops or cafes so I suppose people won’t happen to see it. 

DFYB and passport!

The course was a simple out and back along the coast, at one point dipping down  before we looped back on ourselves (back uphill)- nothing too steep.

I love the out and back nature because everyone was saying “hi”/ “nice work” etc as they passed each other. One of the people I’d spoken to at the start was from the UK but was living over there for a few months and was introducing some friends to parkrun. We chatted briefly as we ran before she sped off, and I was coming in to finish she cheered me in and then ran back to run in with her friends. I didn’t have too long as we had to check out at 11, so I ran back after getting my barcode scanned.

I realised that I was also a parkrun pirate! (7 C’s and an R)- both my Canadian parkruns counted towards the total, and what better place to become a pirate than by one of the seven seas (Pacific)?

While I was running back, Andy texted to say he was walking along to an amazing looking bakery that we’d seen the day before, so I met him there instead.

It was a tough choice, and in the end we got this delicious custard slice thing with raspberries, pistachio and rosewater (alongside the rest of our cereal and apples).

Originally we had thought of  driving up the coast a little to Nanaimo, and getting the ferry back from there, but we could not book on (they were standby only) and as our flight was the same day, we didn’t want to take any chances, so we drove to the ferry terminal in Victoria. On the way back the naturalist on the boat talked about clam gardens, which was really interesting and something I’d never heard about before.

Once back on the mainland we stopped in an outlet mall, (Tsawwassen Mills) and I ended up getting a couple of pairs of leggings in the Lululemon outlet- the slightly cropped ones are ankle length on me and have the stretchy side pockets that I love.

We went to Queen Elizabeth park, a park on an old quarry on a hill overlooking Vancouver. It had a big eco dome thing (a bit like the Eden project) and lots of different styles of gardens to wander around. A quick pop to Wholefoods for a pre-flight sandwich, and then it was time to drive to the airport.

Our flight overnight to New York wasn’t the best, but it was OK and I slept a little. I did worry because we had packed a couple of Clif bars in case we wanted a snack, and although I stay awake for the safety briefing, once that was finished I put on my eye mask and headphones, loaded up a sleep story on the Calm app, and tried to sleep. A little later we were told on the PA system that someone on the plane had an allergy to peanuts and so we should refrain from eating anything containing nuts. I could have already been asleep and missed the announcement.

We landed in NY after 5 and a bit hours, and thankfully immigration wasn’t as long as before (partly because I could go into the queue for previously used ESTA’s). When we first booked the flights we thought we would head into the city for the day, but we thought the airline would keep the luggage and it didn’t, and as our next flight wasn’t until late on Sunday night we couldn’t check it in for that one just yet. We got a shuttle to an airport hotel as we’d hired a day room. This turned out to be a very good idea- when we arrived they were still serving breakfast so we got to have something to eat, could then have a proper sleep and a shower, and just relax before getting the final overnight flight back to Manchester. These were much better seats- we were upstairs at the  front of the main section so we had lots of leg room, no-one in front and it was fairly quiet as there are less people up there. I slept a bit, alternating between the calm sleep stories, music and podcasts. Then all we had to do was get the train back to Milton Keynes and drive the rest of the way home.


Maui for both an active and relaxing holiday

(This is the penultimate recap from the holiday- normal service will resume soon!)

On Tuesday we flew from Portland to Kahului, on Maui, for a more relaxing week and a more traditional honeymoon destination. We are lucky in that we have travelled to Hawaii twice before- the first time we visited Oahu (the island with Honolulu), Maui and Big Island (the one with the active volcano), and the second time we had been to Oahu, Maui and Kauai- for both those previous trips we were over there for a couple of weeks, as you have to fly between each island and so need to allow time to travel. For this holiday we only had a week, so decided we would go to one island, and stay there.  In the end Maui was the choice, as it has lots of things to do, but it’s not covered in huge highways (the ones by Honolulu are crazy), and we would be able to relax after a week and a bit of constantly travelling.

Portland had a rule that nothing at the airport could cost more than it would elsewhere in the city, which was a great thing. We had a few things to finish up for a random breakfast of apples and almonds (as you can’t take certain things into Hawaii), and then we picked up lunch at the airport. I found a place that did a super spicy chai, plus a vegan wrap with veggies and an amazing peanut sauce, and some vegan banana bread for us to share. The flight was about 6 hours, and we flew with Alaskan Air which really impressed me- there was food to buy and no entertainment (I had a load of podcasts to listen to) but they brought around tea and biscuits, and you were actually given the hot water and teabag of your choice- loads better than the BA coffee-coloured tea!

Once we’d picked up the car, we popped to Walmart (thinking it would be the best place to pick up some bits- in fact Wholefoods was cheaper and had a better selection) and then drove up to where we were staying, Ka’apanali, on the west of the island (where we had stayed before).

Once checked in we walked the 2 miles along the coast to Whalers Village, a shopping and dining village close to lots of hotels. It has a Vintage Island Coffee shop- first stop, acai bowls!

We walked back along the coast as the sun was going down- beautiful.

Wednesday- Due to jetlag (it’s another 3 hours from the west coast) I was awake early so headed out for a run down the coast. I did 5 miles to Whalers Village and back.  Look at the size of the hibiscus flowers! I cannot resist taking photos of them- they are so pretty and colourful.

We then walked to Duke’s (a beachfront bar/restaurant) and had breakfast there as a first day treat.

We shared banana macadamia nut pancakes and French toast with lilikoi (a bit like passionfruit) syrup, plus little glasses of POG (pineapple, orange, guava) juice. Sitting there with views of the sea is pretty much perfect.

Later we drove down to Lahaina, a big town slightly south of where we were staying. It’s a lovely place to wander- it used to be the capital and a port for lots of whalers (thankfully the only whale-based industry there now is for watching and not killing). There is an old jail, lots of art galleries, a huge banyan tree, lots of quirky shops and views of the sea.

We were both looking forward to a Dole Whip- we love these at Disney  and the only other place we’d seen them before was the Dole pineapple plantation on Oahu (so wrong island for this trip), but last time we were here we found a place that did them- this one was topped with Maui gold pineapple – so delicious. I ended up with a bit of a headache which was probably from being out in the sun and maybe not drinking enough after the run (and maybe being a bit dehydrated after the flight the day before), so once back we sat in the shade and read our books, had a game of mini-golf once the course was in the shade, and then had a swim in the pool as the sun was going down.

Thursday- Due to having zero acai bowls the day before, we made up for it by going back to the cafe for lunch (we bought some cereal to have for breakfast as our room had a little kitchenette)- they also make an amazing sandwich with peanut butter and mango, in cranberry and walnut bread, so we shared a sandwich and an acai bowl.

Super delicious.

Then we headed down to the Maui Ocean Centre, an aquarium by the ocean. They had a huge dome showing a 3D film all about the whales of Maui (filmed off the coast) which was pretty spectacular. We listened to a talk about turtles- one fact that I found so interesting was because turtles are not reared by their parents, hatchlings raised in captivity can usually be released back into the wild because a lot of their behaviour is based on instinct rather than being taught. That may be obvious to some but it hadn’t occurred to me before.

There was also lots of information about projects going on across Hawaii to make the habits more natural and remove non native species. I also didn’t know anything about the military using one of the islands for testing bombs, (until some time in the 90’s) but that has ended now and they are gradually replanting and repairing the land.

Oh, and guess what? They also sold Dole Whip- it was our lucky week!

We made sure we were back in time to walk along the beach at sunset and take more photos.

Friday- I was up early for a 6 mile run along the coast (more stopping to take photos of flowers of course).

I was so sweaty when I got back! I think when you are running you don’t notice it as much because the breeze sort of cools you, and then once you stop it just pours out. Just me?

We then had more time reading (I was reading a book about a guy cycling around the world and it was very relaxing), popped to a plantation to have a wander around the garden, and then headed over to Ioa State Park to view the beautiful valley and rock needle.

We shared a pineapple and coconut smoothie in the plantation gardens

Beautiful Iao State Park- so Hawaiian with the lush green slopes

I had a look on the parkrun tourist tool to see where my nearest one was- over 2000 miles away! (If you have not used it before, just google tourist tool and it pops up- it tells you your closest parkun and you can move the point to where you will be, say for a weekend away, and also if you add your barcode it can show you only events you haven’t been to before).

Saturday- we decided to try somewhere new for an acai bowl, and walked along to Whalers Village, but although this one was good (topped with papaya and coconut) it wasn’t as good as our favourite.

More hibiscus flowers on our walk back…

Another day, another sandwich- this time with a ginger chai alongside…

We drove to Paia to have a wander- we’d not been here before but it was another lovely place with lots of art galleries and little independent shops. There is an artist called Heather Brown who we love, and have bought a few of her prints before. One art shop was selling them, so we picked up a couple more to take home as souvenirs.

It was a baking hot day, and as we walked past a  shave ice store Andy decided to get one. I am not usually a big fan, as I find it very syrupy, and then end up with brain freeze from eating the plain ice at the bottom, but this store made the syrups with fruit juice, and the ice was really shaved so thinly, and it was actually really good- probably the best shaved ice I’ve had. We had a tropical mix with pineapple, mango and coconut.

Then we headed to Ho‘okipa beach as we had read that giant turtles go onto the beach in the afternoon to sleep there overnight. Sure enough, there were already lots on the beach. The section of the beach was roped off, although one turtle was actually laying on the rope and some people didn’t notice it. Sadly some people were going into the sea and wading over to the turtles, even though you have to stay away from them.

(Bottom left picture- all those mounds on the beach are more giant turtles)

Our plan was then to drive up to Haleakalā National Park to watch the sunset, as the last few times we have been to watch the sunrise, but now that is so popular that you have to book a slot. Anyway, there was a crater cam and it was just surrounded by clouds, so we decided to skip the long drive and head back instead. The drive back should have taken maybe an hour, but the traffic was so bad I think it took close to 3 hours in the end. There is only one road which goes to that part of the island, and there had been a couple of accidents. By the time we got to Lahaina it was dark (and late) so we bought a picnic from the Safeway store to have once we got back.

On Sunday I went out for a longer run (8 miles in the end)- I decided to see how far the path went south of Whalers Village- I think in fact I could have run all the way to Lahaina if I wanted to go further. I found this cool Aloha sign by one of the hotels (a little further south of Whalers Village) and a lovely lady offered to take my photo for me.

I was OK running- slowly and taking breaks to take photos, but when I got home and looked in the mirror I looked a right state- it looked as if my top had been dipped in water as it was totally drenched in sweat.

Thankfully I had bought some coconut water (with lime- this was gorgeous) and a papaya to have for breakfast alongside our delicious pb puffins.

After cooling down, reading in the shade, we popped to get our standard lunch (share an acai bowl and pb mango sandwich), and then headed to Lahaina to buy a few souvenirs and gifts. We had seen Leoda’s Pie shop on our trips before, but never been- there was always a huge queue so we decided on this trip we would make sure, so on our way back we stopped off to get a pie to share- we went for key lime as it would be tropical and we were not disappointed.

We ended the day with a walk along the beach (and in the sea) at sunset.

On Monday we were moving hotels  to a different part of the island for the final night, so after checking out and having a final acai bowl, we drove to the more resort-y part of the island (Wailea). There we were welcomed with the proper lei’s (flower ones as opposed to shell ones at the other place).

We were planning on doing some snorkelling here, but the red flag was out at the beach (meaning dangerous currents) so we couldn’t do it.

The lady at the front desk was very friendly and asked if it was our honeymoon- although I do not like a fuss and felt rather awkward being asked about it. Once in our room there was a knock at the door and a bottle of fizz was delivered to us- I asked Andy if he had ordered it (I didn’t think he would have) and was told that it was a wedding gift- how kind! A shame I don’t drink though!

This (for some reason) really unsettled me- I am not sure why but I think I felt a bit out of place in the hotel anyway (it was a more expensive place-we used a free night from but filled with families with kids so not a really exclusive place by any stretch of the imagination) and I really don’t like a fuss so I just felt like I was being stared at (stupid I know).

Anyway we walked along the sea at sunset and I felt a lot better after that!

Tuesday was our last day in Hawaii- we had a swim in the hotel pool (the waves were too big for snorkelling still), and then went for breakfast. We thought it would be an end of Maui treat, but it was so overpriced and nothing special ($23 for one portion of French toast!). We went over to Kihei and had a little walk along the beach, but it was very quiet and the tide was high so we couldn’t walk far, so we drove to Big Beach instead. You couldn’t go in the water there because the waves were so huge and dangerous (some people still were) but it was amazing to watch.

(No, the beach wasn’t in Australia..) The waves come in sets and there would suddenly be the most enormous wave- it was very hypnotic.

You can see below a few people going near the water in the picture below- we saw a few people get knocked over and apparently this beach has the most broken bones because people underestimate the strength of the waves. There were lifeguards but also signs saying do not go in the water/ do not stand with your back to the water but of course you also see people ignoring the signs because they want the perfect photo.

The plus point of the resort hotel was that you could use a courtesy room after checking out, so we used the room to have a shower and change clothes as we had an overnight flight. There’s a Wholefoods near the airport so we went there for a quick dinner before getting our night flight.

And then it was farewell to another amazing time in Hawaii- the perfect mixture of relaxing, sightseeing, visiting new places and old favourites.

Do you like to go back to the same holiday destination or do you like to always visit new places?