Port 1: Hilo, Hawaii

After five days at sea, it was nice not only to see land but land that was somewhat familiar to us. As we approached Hilo on the east side of the big island of Hawaii, we had a great view of Mauna Kea that soon clouded over and remained so for the rest of the day.

Having already seen the volcanoes, waterfalls and beaches in the Hilo area during our 2013 visit, we elected to spend the day exploring downtown. First stop was the farmer’s market and it did not disappoint. We bought one of the floral arrangements and enjoyed it in our room all the way home.

Downtown Hilo is quaint andvery pedestrian friendly – walking from the Farmer’s Market to the Pacific Tsunami museum, we caught part of a band concert at an outdoor pavilion. The museum was great and we came away with a much better understanding of how tsunamis are a significant part of Hawaii’s history as well as how the Pacific Tsunami Warning System developed as a result. As Pacific island dwellers ourselves, it was particularly interesting and relevant.

From the museum, we made our way back to the ship with a few garden detours along the walk.

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Getaway

Jeff and I celebrate our 10th anniversary in December and decided to mark the milestone with a trip. After spending two lovely Christmases away with family, we knew we wanted to be home for the holidays this year. After looking at endless travel options on different continents, we decided that ease, rest, relaxation, limited complicated logistics and as little time in airports/on planes as possible were our top priorities. When a 17-day cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii and back aboard our favourite line (and on the same ship we took to Spain last year) went on super sale in August, the choice was an easy one to make.

On Sunday, October 1, we caught the ferry to the mainland and a bus to downtown Vancouver- three block walks on either end of the journey took us from our front door to Canada Place. The happy day was made greater with the surprise appearance of close friends on the ferry and lunch with a longtime (41 years and counting) friend in Vancouver before embarkation.

It was our first time sailing out of Vancouver harbour and while Jeff fell asleep and missed it, I stood out on the top deck (without a camera) for over an hour enjoying the scenery. There were rainbows and the most spectacular sunset.

#valhalla #rainbowbridge #stanleypark #lionsgatebridge #thor

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Our views en route to Hawaii also covered a full spectrum of sun, rain, clouds and more great sunsets.

Ottawa

Here are a few snaps of our time in Ottawa over Christmas.

Life On Van Island

Life On Van Island

Louise Bourgeois’ famous spider sculpture, Maman beside the National Gallery (below)

Life On Van Island

Life On Van Island Life On Van Island

Corridors (above) and ceiling (below) in Parliament

Life On Van Island

Life On Van Island

Library of Parliament

Life On Van Island

Rideau Canal locks between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier

Life On Van Island

Jeff researched control theory for flexible link manipulators on the CanadArm while in grad school and was interested to finally see the whole thing in person at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. He thanks us all for not mentioning the fact that one of his early projects is now in a museum.

 

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Thanksgiving

Jeff and I spent last week with my family in Saskatchewan. Somehow, the weather forecasters got it wrong and the lovely autumn days we thought we would enjoy turned, overnight, into this:

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The snow stayed much longer than anyone guessed so plans to finish digging the carrots in my parents’ garden were replaced with other indoor adventures. This yield made us feel rather productive one morning and made for a great end to Thanksgiving dinner.

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Hope your Thanksgivings were as full of fun surprises as ours was.

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Madeira Part 2

Following up yesterday’s post– here are the other things that stood out to us while visiting Madeira last month.

Rock Pools: Porto Moniz has the most amazing natural rock pools popular for swimming in summer. Alas, it was too cold (and with too strong currents) for us to give it a go.

 Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Blue tiles: Those of you who know me know that I adore blue and white porcelain and I loved the many tile artwork pieces we saw affixed to buildings.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Cobblestone mosaics: Private courtyards, shop entrances and city sidewalks – they were all made of cobblestone mosaics in just about every pattern imaginable.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Fado: This was our introduction to Fado, a wonderfully soulful Portuguese genre of folk song. I found it more melodic than the Flamenco we would hear in Spain and liked it much more.

Short visits make it impossible to get to know local culture to the degree I would like and I feel like we caught such a small glimpse of Madeira. It’s is not somewhere we ever thought we would visit but I’m so glad we did.
Life on Van Island Madeira
Life on Van Island Madeira
Next up? Spain. Our Spanish adventure began in Seville.

Madeira Part 1

As previously hinted, Jeff and I went to Europe for several weeks in April. While our main destination was Spain, we stopped on the island of Madeira en route. It was our first time in Portugal and while the visit was short, we were left with very positive impressions. Here are the things that stood out most to us:

Development: Madeira is highly developed (see the main city Funchal below) and felt very European. While it was clear investment in infrastructure has been a priority, it seemed to us that it was done without loosing the island’s historical and European charm. I can’t imagine that was an easy task.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Cliffs and Changing Weather: A completely volcanic island (it felt very much to me like a European version of Hawaii), Madeira has some of the tallest cliffs in the world. These made for some spectacular views, particularly as the weather changed dramatically throughout the day.

 Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

  Life on Van Island Madeira

 Life on Van Island Madeira

Terraced gardens and bananas: Tall cliffs make for difficult farming. The solution? Terraces everywhere. Every home seemed to have its own terraced garden (growing everything from potatoes to strawberries) and many of the mountainsides hosted terraced banana crops. I’ve never seen agriculture like it… and I’ve never seen so many bananas.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira  Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Both great and insane roads: While a number of excellent main roads and tunnels circumnavigate the island, there are still lots of more harrowing ones that hug cliffs and traverse mountains, often without guard rails. Madeira’s airport runway is also an engineering marvel.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira   Life on Van Island Madeira

The old highway, hugging the bottom of the cliff

There’s more to share about this interesting island- stay tuned tomorrow.