Monthly Archives: August 2011

And Another Review of Cider

I treat my ciders like others treat beers, getting into microbreweries and flavors and styles of beer. It’s partly because I cannot drink beer, being allergic to the hops, that I got into cider. Cider is my summer alternative to wine and having a cold cider is just more refreshing at times.

But ciders don’t have as many varieties nor are cideries as multitudinous as microbreweries. So it’s often hard to find a new cider to try. As well, some coolers and other alcoholic beverages masquerade as a cider because apples are the base. In some ways, these are still ciders but in my opinion there is very little that really makes them a cider. True ciders are made with cider apples. Cysers are made with honey and there are a host of factors that make them flat or effervescent, clear or thick, sweet or dry.

Crispin Hard Apple Cider, cider, hard cider, alcohol, alcoholic bevarages, drinks

Crispin Hard Apple Cider

So, it was with interest I saw three bottles of Crispin Hard Apple Cider, which I had never seen. (In Canada when we say “cider” people presume it’s alcoholic; in the US we have to say “hard cider” or people think it’s nonalcoholic.) One was labelled as being made with honey, really a cyser called Honey Crisp, and since I don’t really like honey or mead, I decided against that one. The second was called The Saint and was made with Trappist yeast (as in Belgian Trappist monks famous for their beers) and maple syrup. I thought that might be too sweet as well so I decided on the one that looked all dark, dour and gothic, called Lansdowne, made with Irish stout yeast and molasses.

What is nice about the Crispin brand is that they use organic apples and other ingredients, make their ciders gluten and preservative free and I don’t think there are any sulfites as well. These three ciders are part of the Crispin artisanal reserve and they make a “blue” regular cider line as well. There is a fourth artisanal cider called Cho-Tokkyu made with sake yeast but I didn’t see it in the store. Crispin uses a blend of apples, with their blue line being made with the West Coast type apples, but the artisanal ciders are unfiltered with no grape or malt flavoring added, which is used in a lot of the overly sweet supposed ciders (BC has Growers and Okanagan brands).

Crispin should be given kudos just for trying the unusual, with these cider mash-ups. They also have limited releases and if I could I would definitely be buying those to try. Their operations are in California and Minneapolis. From the write-up on their site these guys are truly a cidery and very much into experimenting with apples.

The Lansdowne experiment was…interesting. Now the caveat is that I don’t drink beer and have never had a Guinness or a stout. The hops allergy and overall pungency of beer has kept me away. I actually didn’t think the stout yeast would be so…stouty. After all, beer battered fish or other foods cooked in beer rarely taste that beery to me. But this drink was heavy. I now know what Guinness drinkers mean about chewy drinks. Lansdowne is unfiltered and cloudy, dark like a watered down stout, and not effervescent at all. I immediately didn’t like it; it shocked my taste buds. However, I did some more sipping and shared it with someone who is a beer drinker. After a few sips he said it was growing on him and quite liked it. The drink was strong in all senses, tasting both of the yeast and the molasses, a lot.

However, while I didn’t like it, I did drink it all and it was okay to my taste buds. It was not sweet at all. The 500 ml (22 fluid ounces) of Lansdowne has 6.9% alcohol. I would think you wouldn’t want it with a particularly heavy meal and for me one was enough. The Crispin cidery has intrigued me and I just might try those other artisanal ciders to see how they come out. I’m more curious about their limited releases if I can find any in Canada.

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Another Short Review of Cider

cider, alcoholic beverage, hard cider, apples, Smiths Organic Cider, drinks, dining

Samuel Smiths Organic Cider

This last weekend I was in Ferndale, Washington and found a couple of ciders I had not seen before.

I picked up a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider from the grocery chain Haggen. The bottle is the 550 ml size or 27 fl. oz. The alcohol content is 5%.

I like my ciders slightly sparkly but this one was flatter, with only the very slightest effervescence. The color as you can see is of a medium amber, consistent with most apple ciders. The glass is the lightest blue-grey so it could have affected the color slightly.

The flavor was a little too yeasty or musky for my taste. It didn’t have much aroma nor did it taste strongly of apples.Your basic hard cider.

Overall I found this cider lacking in flavor even if the apples were organic. I forgot to check the ingredients but often companies don’t list the types of apples they’re using. It’s very possible that Samuel Smith’s doesn’t use cider apples, which are specific and can make a difference in flavor and dryness.

This wasn’t a repulsive cider and if there was no other cider but this or Hornsby’s, then I would definitely choose this one. It just wouldn’t be that high on my list.

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Travel Tips for Amsterdam

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Amsterdam canal by phault: Flickr http://www.flickr.com/people/pjh/

I’m getting ready to travel to the Netherlands and Belgium in about a month’s time. There is actually a fair amount to do, check and get beforehand. Because I’m traveling alone, there are a few other considerations to take into account.

When I traveled to Ireland a few years back I went with my sister. We rented a car, drove as far as we could each day and then as the sun was dipping below the horizon we’d drive into the nearest town, have a drink at a pub and ask them to recommend a B&B. It worked well 90% of the time. We were off season (the end of Sept.) and the towns we stayed in were not the larger cities. That’s why in Kilkenny, a college town, it almost didn’t work. It was a Saturday night and full of party people. It took three tries but we did find a B&B.

So I thought I could do the same thing as I traveled to the Netherlands. I land in London first and as I always do I like to book my first and last nights so that I know that I’m set. I find that Trip Advisor though you have to look at more than a few reviews to get a sense of place. But I will then search elsewhere for rooms, hotels, B&Bs or hostels and check their own sites as well.

As I did the preliminary research for Amsterdam I was a bit shocked at the price of any lodging. A quick look into Belgium showed it to be much the same. My sister and I got a B&B for an average of 25-50 Euros, which equaled between $$35-$60 CAD. Traveling with someone can definitely cut the rate down but here I was looking at hostels, sharing for 50 Euros a night. Yes, there are cheaper places but it’s a fine line to find something that is cheap enough, fits your needs and is clean and pleasant enough. The reviews fit one or the other criteria, but not both.

So I started looking farther afield, googling things like B&Bs Amsterdam, and cheap lodging Amsterdam. This turned up a few more sites. Bed and Breakfast Netherlands lists a lot of actual homes used as B&Bs that you might not find on Trip Advisor. It also breaks the cost down to a single person price. I haven’t yet tried it though.  Couch Surfing can also work and I’ll be trying it for the first time though I’ve already hosted a few people. You don’t have to reciprocate in hosting but it helps for references. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the people who live in these cities. It’s the best way to know a culture. Note that during the high months, Amsterdam hosts can get as many as 10-20 requests a day. It’s one of Europe‘s hotspots and a mecca for the gay crowd. I didn’t realize all this and even though I’m going at the end of Sept. I’m glad I started early. I’ve spent quite a few hours (probably 24-30) just searching out possible accommodations for Amsterdam. I’m not going to book every night everywhere because I don’t know where I’ll go but I now have an idea of what it could possibly cost me (my whole budget). My stay in London is coming in at $120 for two nights at a B&B and that’s a good price.

Know that many Dutch homes are narrow and tall, with very steep stairs. it’s part of their history where land was eked out from the sea so up was the way to go. Amsterdam is of course more expensive than some of the other towns and there are such designations in some of the travel guides as “stoner hotels.” Yes, smoking pot is allowed in some if not all establishments.

Again, money is interesting and it’s looking like traveler’s checks are becoming too outmoded, and that most places won’t take them or will charge an exorbitant fee for cashing them. As well, many Dutch hotels or B&Bs only accept cash because credit card charges eat up their profits so they just don’t use them. Once I’m on the road, I’m sure my experiences will differ some and I’ll report on that. But the best advice for traveling to Europe is check ahead of time on the type of lodging you want and whether you can afford it. I’m glad I did and I’ll be using several options.

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Traveling in India: Bribes and Baksheesh

India’s massive corruption in government has come to a head with Anna Hazare’s hunger strike. However, corruption is not exclusive to India, nor is it new in that country. But India may have made it a fine art.

When I traveled to India, lo these many years ago, I was aware of the bribery (or baksheesh as they call it) before I went. However, due to an ingenuous blend of naiveté and stubbornness I managed not to pay a single rupee. I probably extended my waiting, boredom and frustration but I made it through with the limited funds I had. Mostly, I imagine they left tourists alone who might not know the system or understand what one had to do. There are only two incidences that I think involved a try for a bribe.

When I left the tribal state of Meghalaya, I had to make sure I had a transit paper or visa that showed I was allowed in the state, where foreigners could only enter with a special permit. Because I was traveling into Assam, the neighboring state, I needed to show I was allowed to travel between states. The border was closed at the time because the Khasis and Assamese were fighting with each other (they’re traditional tribal enemies). It was a very long, hot and thirsty bus ride to the Assam airport and then, typical of Indian time, a three-hour wait for the late plane.

I’d probably been sitting there two hours when three men came rushing over, in three different colored suit jackets asking to see my passport. At first I was confused because there was nothing that indicated that they were official in any capacity. And for all I know two of them might not have been. Then I was taken into a back office where they pored over my passport and the papers and wrote everything out, in painstakingly slooooow handwriting. I believe they were trying to intimidate or scare me into paying but I wasn’t sure so I just sat there and let the guy write out everything. After all, I had time to kill until the plane arrived.

The second time was as I was returning from Nepal into India, where you must go through a double border check. Due to the fact that Indians will give you directions even if they don’t know the right directions, I had been told to wait for my connecting bus from the border town of Gorakhpur (near enough to be a major outpost) at the wrong spot and therefore missed it. This meant that I had to take a later bus not meant for tourists. So I was the only white person and only woman on the bus that drove off into the dark of night. Everything was fine and I was sleeping when the bus was pulled over and two men in nondescript jackets boarded and demanded to see my documents and what was in my bag. Note that in India (at least the areas I was in) men and women do not touch in public at all. This doesn’t mean they won’t try to sneak a fondle at a tourist’s expense but it means that a male border inspector won’t search a woman.

I showed them my papers and one bag and then they said, get off the bus. It was not just dark outside but pitch black, barely any lights to indicate a city and nothing but fields around. So I asked them to get my pack off the roof (where bags were stored) and which direction was the closest city. All I could think to do so late at night was walk. They looked at me and said, “What are you doing? Get back on the bus.” So I did, wondering if they had wanted me to pay baksheesh but too bewildered to know it.

The saddest example of seeing what bribery was doing to India, was when I was in Shillong, Meghalaya. I was talking to these bright young men, some in university. They were already defeated because they said that there was little chance of getting a good job without paying baksheesh. They saw no future for themselves and it was such a waste of brilliant minds. Now this was before Microsoft and the IT industry started outsourcing so maybe it got a bit better, but obviously one of the biggest epidemics in a country 1 billion strong, is the rampant bribery that still affects them.

For a bit of fun, here is an artist’s image of Baksheesh Boy.

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Grrr, Tough on Crime

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Captain Marvel gets tough on crime (Marvel Comics)

Yet again, we’re hearing about the Harper government’s tough on crime slogan. I actually get shudders because this phrase just sounds a bit too much like the Bushism “War on Terror.” There’s a crusader’s zeal to it that means not taking measured steps or looking at issues sensibly. It’s a fervent belief that actually has no facts to support the need.

Crime in general and violent crime has been going down consistently in Canada, so what’s happening?

Well, on one level, you have a Conservative government with some scary religious zeal being redirected to where Canadians will find it more acceptable than true religious right-wing zealotry. Crime! Everyone hates crime and yes we want people to be punished for their misdeeds. But the government’s smoke and mirrors means they’re really spending relatively little on building more prisons for a crime rate that’s going done. Then in a few years when the greatly diminished statistics are available (because this government cut out a lot of what’s needed by statisticians) they can say, “Look what a great job we did.”

Hmm, in the meantime they haven’t spent money on crime prevention, which includes lessening poverty, providing education for children (including those who have learning disabilities), and helping people get away from drug addiction. Much better to throw the drug addicts in prison where they can become ever more hardened than try to rehabilitate.

The other half of this weird equation where crime is going down but it “looks” like it’s going up can be blamed on media. When I say media I mean all, from the comic above to all those TV shows and movies with violent criminals or sometimes savvy and cool and handsome ones (the thieves and internet heisters). This also includes radio, TV, newspaper and internet news. We are now supersaturated in the fat of tragedy. Every trauma, tragedy, disaster or crisis is reported on. We don’t get the news just twice a day, but every hour, in twitter, on the internet, in colour, with numerous graphic pictures. We get talk shows and articles until all we see is the DIRE HORRIBLE STATE OF THE WORLD. Aieeee!

No wonder the Conservative government can sell wasting money on more prisons when crime is going down (gang warfare however, is going up). It would be nice if the media went back to unbiased reporting, which means mentioned the good things in life too. How about a few more tales of human kindness and achievement, of the beauty in the world both natural and made by humans. I want to weep sometimes as the mess we’re making but we also have great creative beautiful minds and the majority of people aren’t criminals and really do want the world to be a better place. So while we stay tough on crime (England’s thugs, I’m talking to you) let’s also be gentle and uplifting with beauty.

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A Short Review of Cider

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Rekorderlig Wild Berry Cider

My first taste of alcoholic cider was in England, lo these many years ago. It might have been Strongbow but I actually don’t remember anymore. I’ve become quite the cider connoisseur over the years, taking every opportunity to try as many as possible. Strongbow, once it was available here, became my standby and you can find it in most Vancouver restaurants with it or Rock Creek on tap in many.

Most of the US ciders I’ve had tend to be flatter in taste and effervescence, and slightly sweeter. Next time I try one I’ll do a review.

I’m always on the lookout for a good dry cider. When I first tasted cider in England I could barely get it down and it almost tasted like beer to me. (I don’t drink beer because I”m allergic to the hops.) I think that was just the dry aspect of it. But as it turns out, it would be my first love and I would search the world over for another cider as dry and crisp.

Common in Vancouver, cider is served with a slice of lime, just like the British do it. (Addendum: When in Britain last year they told me they never put lime in their cider, but I’m sure I drank it there first. So either they no longer do it, or I drank too much cider.) When I was in Ireland, enthused to be able to try all the types of Irish ciders, I asked for lime with my drink. I was given a subtle look and then my cider would arrive with no lime. After the third time I realized, oh, the British do that, not the Irish. Bulmer’s cider was the brand and it’s one company in England I believe that makes and distributes it with different names depending on the country (Magner’s and Bulmer’s is the same). It was pretty much the only cider in Ireland, except for Stag’s Head, which was by the same company, as well as an extremely sweet Danish cider that I tried in Dublin.

Once in a while our liquor store gets in other ciders. The BC ciders made by such companies as Okanagan and Growers are fruity alcohol drinks that have as much in common with traditional cider as ketchup has with mustard. I can’t drink them anymore because they are just too sweet. They’re made to cater to the younger college crowd and women but some of us have refined our tastes.

The other day I picked up a can (500 ml) of Rekorderlig wild berry cider ($2.99). As you can see from the picture it’s a pleasant pinky color. Like most Canadian ciders it comes in at 7% alcohol/volume. This is as much as or more than some beers. Rekorderlig is a Swedish pear cider.

I don’t tend to like pear ciders in general. They’re too sweet and indeed this was sweet but not as bad as I thought it would be, and not as sweet as most BC ciders. There is a distinct taste of berries and a good level of effervescence. Over all, it went down nicely on a hot day, served over ice with a slice of lime. Why the lime? I’m not sure why the British first started doing it but I find it can add a slight tang and if the cider is too sweet the lime cuts that a bit.

I don’t know if this cider is made as a true cider, which requires cider apples, but for someone who likes fruity or ciders not too dry, it’s a good choice.

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East Van Wall Art

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Bugs on the wall

East Vancouver, around the Commercial Dr. area is known as the boho artsy part of town. The neighborhood used to have and still does, a heavy Italian and Chinese influence, mixed with artists, First Nations and lesbians. It’s eclectic, used to be lower income and filled with many restaurants. Every fall there is the East End Culture Crawl where people can wander through the many artist studios in the area.

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Wings on the walls

As much as these characteristics are part of the cultural pastiche of East Van, the natural fauna  include raccoons and crows. Crows and Ravens are our local board and even the seagulls don’t compare. Every evening as the light leaves the sky, murders of crows fly east to Burnaby and the Grandview cut to roost for the night.

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Feathers on the wall

It’s no wonder that recently in a community beautification project, that crows feature largely.  Britannia Centre includes a high school, day care, library, park, year-round skating rink, swimming pool, gym, courts and other areas. The school grounds take up several city blocks and on the west side there is a large retaining wall. A few years back, they rebuilt it and people have been trying to do some community gardening there though it’s been sporadic.

wall, East Van, art, design, crows, graphic art, graffiti, wall art, communityBut recently, in the last two months, during Vancouver’s cool weather this year, people were showing up to paint the walls. I was curious. Was it a random flash graffiti mob or was it organized? People came with stencils and I’d say the bottom part was done by participants who didn’t need to be artists. Several people blocked the background geometrical colors, while others came along and blocked in one color with a stencil.

Later, I saw some guys doing the top part of the wall, which is covered with flying crow silhouettes. The bottom half has bugs, bicyclists, birds and leaves. What really worked for this wall was the range of colors, bold swatches behind bold designs. All of the images have had depth added to them with brushstrokes of other color. The wall is interesting and complex without being overly busy and it’s so much nicer than the bland concrete of before.

wall art, culture, East Van, Vancouver, art, crows, graffitiI don’t know who paid for this project, if it was the community or the city or some combination but it is a beautification plan that has greatly enhanced the area. The wall is two blocks from where I live and I love walking by it. The only thing that could dampen it, like some of the other walls in other areas, is if people paint graffiti over it. I don’t mind graffiti but it’s disrespectful, pointless and destructive to paint over other art. Here’s to hoping there are more projects to make the city look better, and to community spirit.


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How to End Your Life

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Creative Commons: by Shuets Udono, Flickr

I’m sure I could write an unending series of stupid things people do that could or have cut their lives short. But perhaps the most common that all of us might do is the act of being a pedestrian. Walking isn’t really an art since we’ve done it from the time we gave up crawling (except for those who get too drunk). Walking is however something that takes attention.

If you walk unconsciously, you’re bound to run into trouble. I know someone who was walking and talking with friends, looking sideways, and ran into a pole and smashed her nose. Then we have the infamous jaywalker. In North America, in most places, this is illegal and for a good reason too. It’s not just that you’re taking a chance with your life because you’re too lazy to walk to a corner, but you also disrupt the flow of traffic and could cause a car accident with another car or with you. Is it really worth shaving a few seconds off of your trip? Not to mention, the more walking, the better you keep in shape.

I am both a driver and a walker. I walk where I can and don’t take my car if I’m going ten or twenty blocks (on most days). When I’m a driver, I respect pedestrian rights. When I’m a pedestrian I respect car driver rights. Too many people feel entitled, but last I looked  no one owns the world. Although pedestrians have the right of way in British Columbia (and many other places) this does not mean they have the right of way in the middle of the street or against lights. At intersections and corners, yes they do but there are still rules. You can’t step right in front of a car and expect them to stop. You would become road pizza.

However, in Vancouver I’ve noticed that if you are standing at a corner, most cars will never ever stop for you. I step off of the curb but not in front of the car, and make eye contact. I kinda like my life. When I start walking I have the right of way but even when I hit the lane going in the other direction, I stop first and look, making sure cars are slowing down and stopping. I’ve had people try to run me over halfway through a crosswalk.

The best way to end your life is to cross against a light, or run across the street because you just have to catch that bus or get that coffee. In the dark or in Vancouver’s notorious rains, people aren’t always that visible. All cars have blind spots and if you run out suddenly, even at a corner, the driver who is turning might not see you. This happened to me once, in the rain, in the dark. All I  saw was a flash of legs and it was so sudden. A few seconds different and that person would have been severely injured.

BC has intersections with blinking green (or yellow) lights on the main street, and stop signs for the side streets. The blinking light means they’re pedestrian controlled and it takes a person pressing the button to have the light turn red. When the light changes, the cars on the side street can get through. When the light turns red the pedestrian is supposed to stop and let the cars go. Red always means stop, even for pedestrians, yet you’ll find people sauntering across without even looking. And crossing anywhere, whether with the light or if you have the right of way, without  looking is a good way to make yourself a smear on the road. Bicyclists and skateboarders (and rollerbladers) who feel that the rules don’t apply to them and think they should go down the middle of the road could find themselves statistics.

Yes, pedestrians often have the right of way, but we’re soft flesh and cars are giant metal monsters with exoskeletons. So if you want to end your life sooner than later, walk against the traffic rules or step out in front of a car without looking, because you want to make them  brake suddenly. The best thing to remember is respect. Riders, drivers and pedestrians have to respect each other and not feel that they’re the entitled ones where the rules don’t apply. Go talk to the bodies in the morgue and see if disobeying those rules helped them.

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Travel Trips on Money

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Creative Commons: Roby on Flickr

I’m planning a trip to Europe in September and thought I would get some of the preparation out-of-the-way. When I went to Ireland in 2007 I took some cash and traveler’s  checks and my sister took cash. But travelers’ checks, they’re kind of passé, aren’t they? A friend had pointed out that I could have used my bank card and I thought, well, duh. But then, could I?

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Creative Commons from http://www.travelingcow.com

So I’ve started checking out a few factors. I thought the easiest thing to do would be to put a deposit of cash onto my credit card and then I could just charge items to the card and only pay the exchange rate. But guess what, because the credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, and I presume American Express) don’t feel they’re gouging us enough with anywhere from 10 to 19% interest on our charges, they tack on a 2.5% charge for any transaction out of the country. For me, being Canadian, that means even a trip to the States will cost me extra on my card. I might be able to pay off my bill before the interest charge comes into effect but not for the 2.5%. Remember, on $1000 that would be an extra $25 for nothing.

Next I called my bank to ask about my debit card, which now has a chip. They said it probably would not work for point of sale transactions as each store in Europe would have to buy into a system and there is no reason they would be part of a North American system. I could use it at a bank machine that is part of the same network as mine (Cirrus in this case) but I would be most likely subjected to a fee from my bank (depends which network) as well as from the European bank machine, which could be as high as $6 per transaction. Well, that’s cheaper than Visa/MasterCard but still could add up and I’m stuck with withdrawing a daily limit. It’s best to check what that limit is.

It looks like I’ll be using a combination of bringing some Euros in cash that I can get from my bank (It’s best to warn them ahead of time so they have enough on hand) and travelers’ checks. Because I will most likely not do US travelers checks but Euros the bank might need three days to order them in. Travelers checks have about a 1% service charge so they’re cheaper than the credit cards. I’ll be getting them about two weeks before I go, just to make sure there are no glitches.

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Creative Commons: Eagle Creek also has leg pouches http://www.amazon.com/Eagle-Creek/e/2210072011/ref=dp_apparel_byline_ety

I’ll arrive in Europe with Euros in cash, travelers’ checks that I can cash at a bank if nowhere else will take them (if you’re going to out-of-the-way places, make sure you cash these at a bank as many shops won’t take them anymore), and a credit card. I have a passport pouch that will hold my money and that I can wear around my neck. Some people favor money belts but I feel more secure with the neck pouch. It’s a matter of preference with these but they’re also an essential for travel when you’re bringing a fair amount of cash and to keep all your important information safe.

The other precaution I take beforehand is to write down all numbers into a booklet that is separate from my money. Should my credit card be stolen how do I call the number on the back of the card when I don’t have the card? I have it written down elsewhere with my credit card number. Emergency contacts, camera serial codes, passport number, travel insurance, etc. are all good things to record elsewhere. You can also send yourself an email that you could access on the internet with all the information. I did this with Ireland, in case my camera was stolen (unfortunately it was stolen from my home shortly after the Irish trip). You can also record your travelers check information, serial numbers and the company contact in case you lose them or run out of money.

No matter where one travels, it’s always good to keep alert and stay cautious. Don’t let your guard down and don’t flaunt all your cash. Take out what you need for the day and hide the rest. I’ll see how the other trip preparations go after this.

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Revisiting the PNE

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A back yard haven near the PNE

Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition is a yearly fair, which highlights food, rides, agriculture and animal husbandry and any other  area of public interest. The PNE is over 100 years old and is held in Hastings Park, a piece of land originally given to the people of East Vancouver to serve as a public park much like Stanley Park. Unfortunately the city saw fit to rent out and chop off chunks of this park till almost nothing was left. Hastings Park is supposed to have public access and the fight with removing or shrinking the PNE has been going for a century now. It’s smaller than it was and was supposed to have vacated the land in 1994, then two years later, and then it changed and changed again. The residents of East Vancouver still continue to fight for more parkland.

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An exquisite sand sculpture at the PNE

Meanwhile the PNE charges a hefty price just to enter the doors ($20). This does not include any rides or food, which you must pay for separately. The fair goes from Aug.20-Sept. 5 this year. Last year was the first time I went in a very long time, because friends were visiting from the US.

I haven’t been in years so it was somewhat fresh. I might go for rides one year but you’re looking at a cost of $60. There is Playland, which is separate and open most of the year if you need some rides.

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The RCMP ride is always a favorite

Parking is always a premium and hard to get so many local residents rent space in their driveways or even on their lawns (though other residents hate this). Some of free things to see include the RCMP mounted ride where Mounties in their red serge do various maneuvers on horses.

There are agricultural buildings with bunnies, ducks, chicken, sheep, cows, horses and pig races, which included 20 minutes of hype for 30 seconds of piggy racing. You can see other farm animals as well as the judging of the draft horse teams that pull the old style wagons.

sculpture, horses, topiary, PNE

A topiary horse outside one of the buildings

There are dog races and free entertainment at the open air stage, including well-known bands such as Spirit of the West on the night we were there, and a selection of the usual rides and games to play. There are demonstrations and of course the line up for the million dollar home draw. To line up to see a house seems boring to me but I have to remember that such fairs started as showcasing home agriculture, husbandry and industry. Other prize draws abound but I paid little attention to these.

horses, draft horses, PNE, fairs

These draft horses are truly huge.

bunnies, animal husbandry, PNE

Bunnies are always a favorite.

We did stroll through container art, a collection of art projects made within the metal containers that you see semi trucks pulling. Some were great, some left a lot…to the imagination I guess.

After about three hours I was done, and that was not doing any rides. I guess I wasn’t that interested in demonstrations. But for a day of seeing a host of activities, it’s not bad. Checking out the PNE‘s site will tell you when there are free or discount days and ways to cut costs. Take the bus, bring water, snacks and something warm in case the weather changes, and let yourself move at a slow pace. There is probably something for most people to see or participate in. And if you care to, ask them why it’s not free to enter when Hastings Park is supposed to be open to the public. I’d be curious as to what they say.

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Filed under art, Culture, entertainment