Archive for the 'Canada' Category

Banff National Park

August 12, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning I woke up early, did some work, and then had a meeting. Around lunch time, I drove west into the Canadian Rockies to visit Banff National Park. WP_20150811_13_17_38_ProIt takes about an hour and a half to get to Banff National Park from Calgary. I don’t have a car at home so it’s fun to drive on survey. Halfway through the journey I figured out that the car had XM radio. YES!!! I love The Groove (channel 50), 90’s on 9, and Classic Vinyl. On the road, it was extremely exciting to see the mountains in the distance. And even more exciting to be in them.

WP_20150811_15_51_48_ProFirst stop was Banff town (pictured above). It was a very crowded ski town. I had expected it to be a little less crazy, not sure why. I decided to have lunch there and found a pizza and beer place with a patio and sat outside. The pizza had mushrooms and pesto and the beer was a local pale ale. There are a lot of Australians in Banff town. I walked around a tiny bit and then headed west again for Lake Louise (pictured above).

WP_20150811_17_00_08_ProIt was very cool to see Lake Louise for real. It took about a half hour to drive there from Banff town. I did a short hike, one mile up and one mile back, to a lookout. Then I went to the shore and sat for a little. There weren’t many people on the little hike, but there were a lot of people at the shore. Lots of people in RVs. Lake Louise is an interesting color, almost like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

WP_20150811_17_02_38_ProAfter Lake Louise, I went to Moraine Lake (two pictures of Moraine Lake), which was still kind of crowded but much more peaceful. I walked one length of the lake and on the walk filled my water bottle with fast moving water from some streams. After the walk I hung out for a while around the lake. The access road to and from Moraine Lake was fun and winding. My dad would like it as a great motorcycle road.

WP_20150810_20_55_25_ProAfter Moraine Lake I drove back to Calgary. It was already 9 pm by the time I got settled so I decided not to go out for dinner. The lunch pizza a was pretty big anyway. Tomorrow I’ll work in the morning and then head to Portland! This was a short and sweet trip to Canada. Hope all is well with you.

Love, Annie

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Back to Calgary

August 11, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope all is well. I’m back in Calgary! It’s the first stop on a short survey. During this trip I’ll also visit Portland OR, San Ramon CA, and San Francisco CA. wp_20150810_18_59_12_proIt’s been four years since I came to Calgary on my first ever survey. I only vaguely remember Calgary from that first survey. I’m much better at navigating cities now having visited ~100 since my last trip here.

I flew out of Boston this morning and transited through Chicago. The layover was only 35 minutes long so there was no time to hang out in O’Hare and I had to sprint across terminal C to catch the flight. The flights were easy. I read last week’s Economist (got to catch up), nodded off pretty hard a few times, and drank tomato juice. wp_20150810_18_59_22_proIn Calgary, the rental car company ran out of GPS units, but I found the airbnb just fine. Going downtown is not that complicated although there was significant traffic.

The airbnb condo is on the 18th floor of a moderately fancy apartment building. It’s clean, it’s bigger and nicer than my apartment at home, and the woman I’m renting from is very good at communication.

I did some work in the afternoon (surveying is not my job now, so I must take care of other work from the road) and then had a good wander. I found a tapas restaurant in the “beltline” district and had dinner. I sat at a bar that faced the street, a perfect vantage point. wp_20150810_20_00_46_proI read and watched people walk by. The best things I had were meatballs and rose sangria.

Midway through the meal looked up the Canadian dollar. I assumed the rate was around 1-1 or 1-1.15. The Canadian dollar is weaker than I imagined (currently 1 USD is nearly 1.3 CAD) so I had a very indulgent meal and even ordered dessert and espresso. Tomorrow I’ll wake up early for work and a meeting.

Love, Annie

Montreal!

December 4, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. I did not go out on survey for work this quarter but still traveled a little. My colleague Alex and I took a trip to Montreal the other weekend. It was really fun! We rented an Airbnb in the old part of town, the Old Port area.

IMG_0435On Friday we started off with some car issues and left a bit later than we had hoped. We stopped in Waterbury, VT for dinner at a restaurant called Prohibition Pig, which was awesome. We arrived at our apartment around 11 pm and almost immediately headed out to the bars. 20141122_150133It was really cold the first night, the kind of cold that makes your ears feel like they might snap off. At each bar, the bartenders we very nice looking. By two in the morning, the bartenders were getting so drunk and sloppy that they screwed up our drinks. We had amazing Poutine and there was dancing on the top of the bar!

20141122_172311The next day, we ate a brunch and had a walk up Mount Royal. The views were awesome and it wasn’t that cold. In the afternoon, I walked around some galleries. It started to rain, and by evening it was snowing pretty hard. We started off our evening at a fancy cigar lounge – I smoked a cigar and had a whisky flight. 20141122_180809Across the street from the cigar lounge was a ping pong bar (NOT the kind of ping pong bar they have in Thailand). We had a few whisky sours and played a few games of ping pong then foosball. I am a decent ping pong player but Alex is an incredible player so I lost.

20141122_165619 (1)After the ping pong club, we went to a bar with REALLY weird drinks called Le Lab. One of our drinks had beef jerky in it. Very innovative. After those drinks, we went out for fondue 🙂

The next morning we woke up SO late, 15 minutes before we were supposed to check out, and had to get an extension on our check-out time. eek. 20141122_150534When we walked out to the car, we saw that it was towed – we didn’t take into account the 24 hour clocks when we parked it on Friday night so the car was towed at four that morning. The pickup was surprisingly easy. We drove home and stopped in Burlington for lunch at American Flatbread. It was delicious but I was extremely tired of cheese at this point. All in all, it was an awesome weekend, and Airbnb is really easy.

Anne and BubbieOn another note:

My most devoted reader, my Bubbie, recently passed away. The picture to the left is of her and me. She really liked this blog and every post I’ve ever written has, in part, been for her. She was like a second mother to me and taught me so many life lessons. I miss her and I am excited to honor her as I use these skills and have the right attitude every day!!

Love, Annie

Saint John Continued

August 29, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday and Today have been pretty solid. Some highlights: First, I found this granola. Guess there aren’t really any questions about what it’s supposed to do for you.

Yesterday, Sunday, it was hurricane-ing. I had originally planned to go to the beach for my day off but quickly realised that was not my best option. Instead, I drove up to Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. It was about an hour north, but took me longer than that to drive there because of the heavy rains and winds.

When I got there, it was still pouring, so I wandered a little but it wasn’t the most enjoyable wandersperience, so I went back to Saint John. Glad I saw it at least!

I ate dinner at a place called Thandi’s where I watched Women’s Golf and where the server was very interested in me as he is obsessed with travelling and will be going to Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras for two and a half months on his own, Next Week!

I watched Confessions of A Shopaholic last night and found it increasingly stupid. But it was on. I watched The King’s Speech the night before. That was Awesome. I had never seen it before.

Today I worked for a while, and in the evening ate dinner back at Grannan’s where I got my salad even more garlicky than last time (mom, i think by the time you pick me up from the airport the smell will be gone…  at least I hope because im looking forward to a nice hug) and watched a nice performance of “So You Think You Can Dance Saint John” competition that was going on outside. I tried to capture the scene:

This was taken from my table at the restaurant but I am standing up to get a better angle. There were a lot of kids doing extremely sexy dances to what I thought were inappropriate songs for kids that age to dance to. They were very good dancers, but I was shocked when the announcer said, “… and Michaela is Ten years old and studies dance at such and such” TEN?? Damn. On the whole, it was all very entertaining.

Now I am getting ready to go to bed, preparing for my last full day of this month’s survey. Heading home on Wednesday 🙂

Love,
Anne

Super Saint John Saturday

August 27, 2011

Ohh haaayyy Family and Friends,

Another great day in Saint John. I got up and got some “speedball” coffee from the local coffee shop. Nothing illegal, they say it just has extra caffeine. Pretty tasty. Then I went to check out the City Market. Thinking it was just a regular grocery store, I was surprised to find:

A cool farmer’s market of sorts! I spent the rest of the day working, and was able to get a lot done. By around 6:30, I had had enough, so I went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.

For dinner, I went to a place called Grannan’s to get some seafood. I sat outside looking at the waterfront and listening to some live music … not bad. I got fish and chips and Caesar salad. When I ordered the salad, the server asked, “since we make it from scratch, what level of garlic hotness do you want?” One of the benefits of being alone is that I could say “super strong…the most garlicky you can make it!” :).

It was great. After dinner, I walked around and ended up in a funny candy store called Freak Lunchbox. They played dance music in there and have hilarious candy items. Now, I think i’m going to watch The Town. Hope everyone had a nice day.

Love,
Anne

Hello Saint John!

August 26, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Tonight is my first night in Saint John, and today was awesome. After a fun flight where no one was sitting next to me, my bag arrived and I got my rental car with no fuss, and drove about fifteen minutes to the hotel, located on the water in the center of town. As soon as I arrived, I was hit in the face with some refreshing salty ocean breeze. This was certainly a nice change of pace from the larger, less-near-the-coast cities I had been in for the past week and a half.

I quickly made some new friends– here we are all together: 

After checking into the hotel, my mood was lifted even more when I saw that my room was big and cold, and that the bathroom was outfitted with amazing Crabtree and Evelyn shampoos and soaps, and that they have my favorite kind of shower drain!

After doing some work in the hotel, I went out on a walk to explore around Uptown Saint John. It’s small and pleasant, and the people here seem extraordinarily friendly.

Here’s a picture of what it looks like from outside the hotel:

The body of water that you see here is a harbor in the Bay of Fundy. The Bay of Fundy is very famous because it has the highest tides in the world. I knew about it from studying it in marine bio in high school. You can read all about it at http://bayoffundy.com/about/ . In the picture, the tide is low-ish.

At dinner, I sat next to a couple from the area, and we chatted about Boston sports teams, work, and family. I was surprised to hear that if they want to go skiing, they go to Vermont and Maine! Boston is approximately 7 hours away from here by car, and people from Saint John go there often, especially to watch the Patriots! Many of people I spoke to also go there to see BC football games because the Patriots are getting expensive.

Happy Friday everybody!!! Good night.

Anne

Goodbye Toronto

August 25, 2011

Hi Family and Friends,

Here’s that picture I mentioned yesterday:

Pretty cool eh? Tomorrow I leave for Saint John, New Brunswick and I’m very excited. Today I had a long working day with some highly frustrating moments, so im pretty glad it’s over. Of course, I ate well.

My favorite meal today was lunch, which I ate at a Japanese restaurant called Ginza in the Yorkville neighborhood. I had the lunch special Bento box and it included a little bit of everything. Salad with gingerey dressing, miso soup, some sushi, some tempura shrimps, a potato pancake (that was very different than the potato pancakes I am used to) and even green tea ice cream. Of course I spilled salad dressing on myself because I ate the salad with chop sticks. Fortunately, nobody was looking. Overall, the meal was Excellent and very well portioned for lunch so that I was satisfied but not stuffed afterwards.

I have to get up very early for a flight, so good night!

Love,

Anne

Wednesday in Toronto

August 24, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Another great day in Toronto. I’m sitting now at the restaurant in the hotel eating some tomato and dill soup. It’s storming like crazy outside and there’s supposed to be a tornado! I went out earlier to a bar and for a walk, but clearly came back at the right time (when it started to pour)!

Earlier this evening at the bar, I sat next to a girl that lives in Baltimore. She is up in Toronto on business as well. She came to the US from India for college, and this surprised me because she didn’t have even the slightest accent! She said that her first language was English, even though she grew up in Calcutta and her parents are from India. Apparently, there are many families in India that speak English at home. I did not know that! We were both happy to have learned something new. She learned that there are people that do what I do. Also, she had gone to business school in Boston so that was something nice and common. Not the business school part, obviously.

I was jealous that she felt the earthquake that occurred a few days ago. She was on the 7th floor of a building, and in contact with her colleagues in Baltimore that apparently Really felt it. She said that she all of a sudden felt dizzy like she was drunk and the curtains were shaking! I think I was in a supermarket that was below ground level when it occurred. I’ve never experienced an earthquake before and have always been fascinated by them (please note I’m not asking to be in one and realize that it’s important to be careful what you wish for).  I had no idea about the earthquake until a friend from home asked if I had felt it. He hadn’t either! I’m wondering if anyone around Boston felt it? What was it like?

On my walk, I went up to the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre, where there’s a restaurant with a fantastic view. I took a picture but it’s not loading onto my email, so I may have to wait until tomorrow to post it.  I had originally gone up there to eat dinner, but they were playing some love-y music like they play in CVS, the kind that easily induces crying (at least for me) so I left because I didn’t want to feel too lonely. I’m glad I went up there for the pictures though.

During the daytime, I did lots of work, and when it was time to do some online work I did laundry. The laundry experience at this hotel was extremely pleasant. Tomorrow is my last day in Toronto! The week went by so quickly.

Love,

Anne

Toronto Continued

August 24, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope everyone is well. I’m having a great time in Toronto, continuing to use the Bixi bike system and my feet to get around, and a streetcar once. This is the first city I’ve been to this month without a rental car, and it’s fantastic to not be stressed about parking.

Speaking of parking, I didn’t mention an interesting system they have in Calgary (I haven’t checked it out yet here because there has been no need). There, if you park downtown, you pay at an electronic station. There aren’t physical meters, only signs that mark off each parking area with a number. You can pay by credit card in a nearby electronic kiosk using the number for the area and your license plate. Although you can only put in money for two hours, you can refill the “meter” from any electronic kiosk in the city. Sweet!

The past few days have been awesome. I have been working hard and eating well and definitely enjoying my time here. Today, I had sushi for lunch, and ate caprese salad for dinner on the waterfront. Here’s a picture of some of the waterfront. 

Even though it’s a big and bustling city, I haven’t been meeting as many people as I have in other cities. I’ve done a ton of observing though, but have been too tired and focused on working these past few days to get out on the town. I’m sure I’ll make it to a hopping bar at some point.

I wish this post were more exciting but I’m kind of in a zone (and I’ve yet to go to any of the Amsterdam-like coffee shops that they have here in Toronto)!

One exciting thing is that I’ve been watching The Simpsons! It’s on the Canadian comedy channel after Conan and I’ve been watching it because I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep. The TV in this hotel is very modern, unlike the TVs in the past hotels, so I’ve decided to take advantage of it. I had only seen one episode of The Simpsons before I got to Toronto and I’m enjoying the experience.

Anyway, more soon! I’m happy to have a few more days here, and also excited to be home in just over a week. Also, I wanted to say Thank you for reading this blog! I just checked out my stats (a cool feature of wordpress) and it looks like more than a handful of people are reading this! so Thanks for following.

Love,

Anne

Sleepy Sunday in Toronto

August 22, 2011

I say sleepy because I slept until noon. I didn’t go to bed until at least after 4:45. Napping doesn’t agree with me…

Hi Family and Friends,

This post will be short because it’s pretty late. I woke up today and got back on the rental bikes because I still had some time left in my 24 hour already-paid-for slot. I explored some areas I had not seen yet and then went to Chinatown for Brunch. I went to a place called Asian Legend for dim sum (the lady I met yesterday recommended it). It was great. I had broccoli and steamed Shumai. There was a screaming baby in the restaurant but it was still great! (Plus, I wasn’t trying to have a conversation with anyone). This baby was insane I can’t believe the parents took her out.

Anyway, Here is a picture of Chinatown: It’s more bustling than it looks in the picture.

After brunch I kept on exploring, and then I went shopping a little when it started to rain, and then continued to explore. I saw where the blue jays play and it looks like it’s indoors!

After that, I went back to the hotel and did lots of work.

That’s pretty much the whole day. I’m excited for work tomorrow and to see more of the city!

All the best,

Anne