Following Victoria Day’s namesake Queen

Since we’re in London this Victoria Day, we’ve been able to explore the city where the long-reigning Queen Victoria lived.  Unless you’re in Victoria BC where Victoria Day is a big day of celebration, for most Canadians it’s a long weekend to mark the unofficial start to summer and it’s one of the few times they might think about the namesake monarch.

However, in the UK, Victoria is everywhere, from memorials to palaces to chapels.  The Victorian era has a long enduring influence on the transportation infrastructure, architecture, and style of the United Kingdom and all around Commonwealth.

When you’re in London here’s a few of easy spots associated with Queen Victoria;

Kensington Palace: the palace is the current home of many Royals, including the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince Harry and has a strong association with Diana Princess of Wales, Kensington Palace was the birthplace of Princess Victoria on May 24, 1819

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace: the original Buckingham House, it was later expanded and became the Monarch’s residence when Queen Victoria moved in after her coronation in 1837.

Westminster Abbey: located across from the Houses of Parliament, the gothic abbey is where the coronation of Victoria and all monarchs, starting with William the Conqueror in 1066, has taken place.

St James’s Palace: the Tudor palace is the oldest of London’s royal residences and where the young Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in the palace’s Chapel Royal

Albert Memorial: the hard-to-miss memorial sits in Kensington Gardens across from the Royal Albert Hall, and stands as a monument to Victoria’s beloved husband since the Queen dedicated it in 1872.

Windsor Castle: a main residence for the Monarch and her family, especially after Prince Albert’s death, the magnificent Castle’s grounds also house the Royal Mausoleum the final resting place of both Victoria and Albert.

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial: a visit to Buckingham Palace has to include a look at the Victoria Memorial standing front and centre at the front gates to the palace, begun in the year of her death, 1901 and unveiled a decade later.

London Victoria Station: located not far from Buckingham Palace, and representative of the major growth in transportation during the Victorian era. Since its opening in 1860 Victoria Rail Station has grown to become the second-busiest rail station in London, adding the Underground and Coach Stations nearly 200 million people travel through the station each year, including most visitors.

These are just a few of the many spots around the British capital that have an association with the diminutive monarch but nearly everywhere you look has a royal story. On your next trip, go out and visit Britain’s royal connections for yourself and find the hidden connections.

If you can’t be in London to celebrate, enjoy whatever you do this Victoria Day!


Helijet Vancouver Sightseeing Tours

Helijet has lifted off for another season of spectacular sightseeing over the beauty of downtown Vancouver, Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains.  While the flights may be at altitude, helicopter flights aren’t just for high-flyers, with tours starting at $149 per person (children half price) they’re an adventure that can suit many budgets.

Your flights could be for a special occasion, showing visiting friends and family the scenery of Vancouver or just checking a helicopter flight off your bucket list but you don’t need an excuse to see the city from a different angle.

Get up and explore by air, maybe you’ll even get to wave at some hikers when you pass between the twin peaks of The Lions!

For summer Helijet offers, three preset Vancouver Sightseeing tours;

False Creek Panoramic – 10 minutes – $149pp
West Coast Spectacular – 20 minutes – $224pp
Greater Vancouver Scenic – 30 minutes – $299pp

Full descriptions and departure times can be found on
Custom charters are also available upon request.

Helijet is located at Vancouver Harbour Heliport, 455 W Waterfront Road, (next to the SeaBus dock)
Follow them on Twitter @Helijet or for up to date flight information.

Helijet Tours Take Off For Summer

Over Vancouver Summer is upon us and the skies are clearing.  Whether it’s just for a treat for yourself or to show of your city to your visiting friends and family there’s no better way to see Vancouver than from the sky.
Helijet offers sightseeing adventures from Vancouver Harbour Heliport from now until September that are sure to WOW whomever you take up and away with you.
Soaring over the city, water or mountain tops there’s always a new sight to see or a new perspective to gain from the air from the 5 passenger Bell LongRanger helicopter.

Three tours are offered daily.

False Creek Panorama(10 Min) Departing Mon-Fri at 1100, 1355, 1845. Sat, Sun & Holidays at 1100, 1150, 1600
Watch mountain, sea, and sky nestle against the urban landscape as you take off from Vancouver Harbour Heliport. Bearing west, you’ll fly the tree-lined coast from Stanley Park to English Bay before soaring above some of Vancouver’s most visually-arresting architecture ? BC Place Stadium and the Telus World of Science. On your return you’ll have a dramatic view of the bustling port and an unforgettable vista of the North Shore Mountains. $149/person (minimum 2 passengers) + tax  

West Coast Spectacular(20 Min) Departing Mon-Fri at 1205, 1510, 1820. Sat, Sun & Holidays at 1205, 1510, 1535Helijet Sightseeing Over Mountains
Prepare to be amazed by the spectacular natural scenes just outside Vancouver. Taking off from Vancouver Harbour Heliport, fly along the rugged West Vancouver coastline to Horseshoe Bay at the mouth of Howe Sound. Gently climb 1600 m, passing between the twin peaks of The Lions to find valleys and canyons carved deep into the North Shore Mountains. You’ll pass over sparkling Capilano Lake and on to Vancouver, spread out before you along the waters of Burrard Inlet. $224/person (minimum 2 passengers) + tax

Greater Vancouver Scenic (30 Min) Departing Mon-Fri at 1115, 1230, 1745. Sat, Sun & Holidays at 1115, 1230, 1615
You’ll see why Vancouver is considered one of the world’s ‘best places to live’ on this all-encompassing aerial tour of the city. Combining the best sights of the False Creek Panoramic and West Coast Spectacular, you’ll tour Vancouver before passing over the mouth of Howe Sound for a view of Stawamus Chief Mountain. Hover among the peaks of the North Shore Mountains to gaze across Vancouver’s urban expanse toward the Salish Sea, with Vancouver Island on the distant horizon, before returning to the Vancouver Harbour Heliport.
$299/ person (minimum 2 passengers) + tax

Visit Helijet online for more details, call to reserve at 1.800.665.4354
Follow them on Twitter @Helijet or

Explore Seattle with Evergreen Escapes

I’ve been to Seattle many times for concerts, shopping and quick getaways but rarely have I taken the time to look around the city. On my recent #2DaysInSeattle trip I had the opportunity* to take a trip with EverGreen Escapes.  Based in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon,  EverGreen Escapes specializes in nature, epicurean and education adventures throughout the region. From half-day city tours to multi-day outdoor adventures there’s something for everyone on their list of excursions, I chose the half-day Explore Seattle Tour. Picked up from the hotel by our driver/guide Joslyn at 0730, and after picking up the rest of the 8 (of a possible 10 seats) guests, we set off on our 3.5 hour tour.
First stop was the place it all began, Pioneer Square and a little history lesson on the beginnings of Seattle. A swing through downtown and Pike Place Market before taking a drive up Queen Anne Hill to Kerry Park Lookout for some breathtaking views over downtown Seattle and Puget Sound. One of the more interesting stops on the tour had little to do with scenery or history but Joslyn next pulled into one of Seattle’s P-Patches.  The Interbay P-Patch is one of the city’s community gardens, provided a glimpse into the real neighbourhoods and the community spirit that make up the Emerald City. Following a drive through the up-scale Magnolia neighbourhood to the Ballard Locks and Fish Ladders, a large set of locks connecting Seattle’s Lake Washington Ship Canal and Salmon Bay. An engineering feat, the locks and accompanying fish spawning complex are also a bustling attraction as visitors watch the fish below and the boats being raised and lowered in the waters above.
Passing over the canal into the free-spirited Fremont District and a visit to Theo Chocolate shop and factory, was a another interesting stop in our diverse day out. Even if it was probably a sponsored stop, sampling Theo’s on-site handmade artisan chocolate was a tasty afternoon treat and a somewhere that I wouldn’t have found without EverGreen Escapes.  Since we were ahead of time, Joslyn suggested a walk through the quaint main drag of Fremont instead of a drive to our next stop, the Lenin Statue. Walking back to the van through the peaceful, village-like neighbourhood on a sunny day, was a great way to wrap up an informative, fun and recommended city excursion.

Contact EverGreen Escapes to make a reservation
Seattle: 206-650-5795
Portland: 503-252-1931
Toll Free : 866-203-7603

*EverGreen Escapes provided me with the opportunity to take one of their tours with no expectation of endorsement

Alexander Keith’s Brewery – Halifax

Alexander Keith’s Brewery in Halifax is one of the oldest breweries in North America.  Having emigrated from Scotland in 1817, brewer Keith established his self-named brewing company in 1820.  Today the brewery still produces his namesake beers, India Pale Ale being the most popular of them.
The Halifax brewery is open to the public for tours, through the oldest parts of the establishment and giving a glimpse into the 19th century brewing business.  Costumed tour guides escort and reenact the jobs throughout the brewery, filling the visitors in on the way of life in the 1800’s.   The tour

Costumed guides demonstrate the brewing process

follows the brew process starting in the company boardroom and brew master’s offices, through the brewing silos, into the delivery bays and finally a recreated tavern for a sample tasting of the ‘finished product’ and a bit of era specific song and dance.

Time to sample the finished product

For anyone visiting Halifax, the Alexander Keith’s Brewery tour is a must see and a fun way to experience a bit more of the past life of the historic harbour city.

Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour is located at:
The Brewery Market. 1496 Lower Water Street, Halifax Nova Scotia
Open year round
Adult admission: $15.95

Fairmont Hotels – Helijet : Vancouver & Victoria just got closer

Toasting a new partnership

How many great partnerships have started over a drink? For the new partnership between Helijet and The Fairmont Waterfront and The Fairmont Empress it’s over a cup of tea!

The Fairmont Empress General Manager, Martin Leclerc, landed in Vancouver this morning with a hot pot of tea to toast the new partnership with Helijet President Danny Sitnam and The Fairmont Waterfront General Manager Ian Pullan.  With two great properties just 35 minutes apart the tea was still steaming as the three gentlemen unveiled a Helijet helicopter newly emblazoned with the two iconic hotels’ logos.

The new partnership brings together great local brands and offers their guests some great value and exciting packages.
Fairmont Presidents Club members (free to enrol) get a preferred rate on Helijet flights.

Cocktails on The Veranda, a perfect summer afternoon!

What a great way to quickly get from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria and experience the renowned Empress Afternoon Tea.  A Victoria tradition since 1908 Afternoon Tea should be taken at a leisurely pace,  why spend half the day in your car to get there, fly over then let Helijet’s shuttle van drop you at the front door of the hotel. If tea is not your thing, The Veranda at The Fairmont Empress has the best front and centre seat in the city, a great spot to enjoy a meal or martini. (Try the Empress 1908 cocktail…it’s perfect on a summer day!)

The Fairmont Waterfront offers an amazing new VIP tour package.
The Ultimate 48 Hours In Vancouver Experience” includes Fairmont Gold accommodation at the hotel,  a guided culinary tour on Granville Island, exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the hotel’s rooftop chef’s garden or an inside look at the hotels bee hives with the resident Bee Keepers plus a Helijet sighting adventure from the Harbour to the peak of Grouse Mountain, a gourmet picnic lunch packed by the hotel’s chefs to enjoy on the mountaintop.

Take off on the Ulimate 48 Hours Package from Vancouver Harbour
Land at Grouse Mountain, "The Peak of Vancouver"

Experience them individually or link a visit to both properties with a Helijet flight and make it the ultimate getaway in your own backyard!

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town Vancouver

When you’re on vacation do you check out sight, attractions and events? Do you do the same when you are at home? Probably not unless you have a visitor in town, right?

Well now’s your chance to experience some of the great local attractions and sights without costing you a cent! Free is the best price! 

For the month of May, Tourism Vancouver and the city’s attractions have teamed up to allow everyone the opportunity to play tourist in our own backyard. Each day visit to download two free admissions to the next days special attraction.  Check early as there are limited passes each day, but don’t worry tomorrow will bring a new attraction.
As an added bonus, each time you download an offer you’re entered to win 4 admission passes to that attraction.

While you’re out or after your day is done, Tourism Vancouver wants to hear how your day went. Tweet them (@myvancouver) or write on their Facebook wall (

Get out and explore and save money while you do it…what could be better!?