Vancouver

Vancouver is a huge city filled with diverse culture. There are strong links to and from Seattle, areas to see theatre and music, popular public parks and famous food markets.

If you are road tripping or city hopping, Vancouver connects to a range of destinations. Seaplanes are a preferred form of transport for connections to Vancouver Island and even Seattle. An evening by the waterfront can be enjoyed in many restaurants and bars, watching the planes land and take off on water.

Stanley Park Cycle Route

Since Vancouver is so huge, one of the best ways to enjoy it is by bike. Multiple places around the famous Stanley Park offer bike rentals and you can follow a circular route through the park and out towards Granville Island, a thriving island filled with food markets and culture. The route then continues round and returns past the TELUS Science World.

Vancouver Public Library

If you are passing, the Vancouver Public Library is definitely worth seeing. It makes for some great photographs and is structurally interesting. However I did find it a bit pastiche and ‘colosseum.’ I couldn’t quite persuade my brother to go inside the library and the atrium itself is nothing more than a shop front.

Culture and History

Vancouver is full of culture and heritage. Within the city, Gas Town and China Town sit adjacent to each other in Downtown Vancouver. Ideally you want to experience Gas Town in the evenings. The area is filled with Victorian buildings, a steam-clock and restaurant bars – perfect for a Friday Night. China Town is home to a beautiful Japanese Garden.

Further from the centre in North Vancouver, is the Capillano Suspension Bridge. You can visit the attraction and learn about the history of the bridge building. On the other side of the river, there is a treetop park to enjoy however I soon discovered that the attraction is overpriced. You’ll be paying to queue across a bridge and then walk about a kilometre. Again, the pictures are pretty but in terms of experience, it wasn’t really worth it.

Museum of Anthropology

I initially had the Museum of Anthropology on my bucket list for the architecture. It turns out that the exhibitions themselves are just as impressive and extensive. In fact, it’s probably the best thing you can do in Vancouver if you want to learn about Canadian heritage. Unfortunately, my trip was cut short when someone broke into our rental car but despite this is was a really great trip – just park close to the front door!

Whale Watching

Finally, you can’t go to Vancouver and miss out on the whales! We booked on an organised whale watching trip and spent 3 hours watching killer whales fishing and diving around. We also saw seals, sea lions, eagles and herons on the way. It’s not every day you get to see a whale! One tip I do have though – book an afternoon slot because the morning slots spend time trying to find the whales in the first place. Go in the afternoon, and the boat will head straight out to the whales meaning you get more time to watch them play. We did this and it was worth it!

Vancouver is a very diverse city break and there is a huge range of things to do and see. My favourite though had to be the whales! It’s not everyday you get to spend hours photographing such incredible animals!

Want more of Canada? Check out my mountain photography and road trip through The Rockies here.

Canadian Mountains

Mountains are spectacular! Canada is home to the most incredible expanse of mountain tops.

It’s almost October – what? After my crazy summer of travelling I threw myself back into a new job and new house. Now the rain is here, the sweaters are on and I still have mountains of Canadian moments to share.

I went to Canada in June. It was the trip that my Dad and I have always dreamt about. We hired a car and spent two weeks road tripping from Calgary to Vancouver with my Mum and brother.

Never in my life have I ever stood 7,500 ft above sea level and just stared out across a mountainous valley. I love mountains. I love to stand in high places and look out over vast expanses of land – it excites me!

We aren’t just talking one spectacular view like Kambadaga Falls, or Nikko’s mountainside Lake Chizenji. I’m talking about miles and miles of road winding between peak after peak. In the height of summer, you can look up and see glaciers.

I spent one beautiful morning running from Tunnel Mountain into Banff, following the river as it wound through the valley. Watching the fog lift and the mountains break through was such an incredible life-giving experience.

The best morning run I’ve ever done!

Time stands still in the Rockies. As a family we just slowed down completely. Mornings are quiet in the little mountain towns. Days were spent watching elk and bears, parking up at various view points, canoeing, hot-tubbing and relaxing.

God often uses mountains to speak to me. Often He will remind me of how faith can physically move mountains, or in the hard, muddy, valley moments He promises to stand on a mountain top with me. He shows me all the things he has for me in the next season.

How beautiful are the mountains! I just love to look through all my photographs and breathe sometimes. One day – just maybe one day – I’ll live on my own little mountain.

I’ll share more about our road trip stops in Calgary, Kelowna and Vancouver but for now, enjoy the mountain pictures!

Kyoto

red gates kyoto

Japan is a rich, dense nation deeply routed in buddhist and shinto culture. Tokyo makes it incredibly easy to forget such roots with it’s metropolis of high rise developments, huge business and city life. Kyoto, Japan’s former capital however, offers a charming insight into Japanese culture.

As a UNESCO world heritage site, Kyoto is home to some of Japan’s oldest, most beautiful buildings. Traditions such as tea ceremonies and kaiseki dining offer tourists an opportunity to encounter such a beautiful culture. Kyoto mixes history, beautiful architecture, religion and natural beauty within a city demographic.

Kyoto charm

Kyoto’s charm and beauty is displayed throughout the city but the three most incredible and enchanting spots have to be, the Gion District, the Nansen-ji temple and the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

kyoto Fushimi

Gion

The Gion district is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Gesiha are entertainers who perform theatre and dance in tea houses. Traditionally, many women use to train at a young age and become Geisha. Performing for those in high society, it is still one of the best and most well-respected jobs a woman in Japan could have. A stroll by the river and then along the little lanes of ancient wooden houses can lead you to stumble across Geisha, dressed in typical kimono. The Gion is also home to one of the ‘most beautiful Starbucks in the world’ which offers a tatami style (typical of Japan) seating.

Nansen-ji Temple

Kyoto is home to so many incredible temples. The Nansen-ji temple is one of the most impressive just by shear scale. A walk around the grounds is a pleasant stroll or you can head up the Philosopher’s Path, which is a hike up the mountain giving spectacular views of the temple and city from above. I didn’t get chance to do the hike but it’s definitely worth it if you happen to have time spare in Kyoto.

nanzenji temple

Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Kyoto’s must see attraction is the Fushimi Inari Shrine dedicated to the God of business. Many businesses donate a red torii gate, writing their business name on it. 10,000 of these gates create a trail up the mountain and it makes for a beautiful walk. The attraction is extremely busy however the further up the trail you get, the less people and the views are an added bonus!

Enchanting

Kyoto is beautiful. The heritage of the city is enchanting. Its also the place for souvenirs, Japanese food markets and good speciality coffee. Not to mention the stunning Arashiyama bamboo forest…

I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to visit Kyoto and I wish I could have spent longer there. It’s taken a piece of my heart!

Humans of Japan

Street Photography

The people of Japan are incredible! They are some of the healthiest people on earth and are very active. I couldn’t wait to get to Japan – it is a brilliant place for street photography. I’m calling this collection ‘Humans of Japan.’ I capture subjects unaware in order to reflect and document Japanese culture.

Please do not reproduce or republish these photographs.

Tokyo Technicality

Tokyo is an explosion of high-rise technology, conservative culture and tasty food. If you’re a fan of all things instantaneous and a sucker for a quirky vending machine, then Japan’s capital is for you!

One of Shibuya's intersections, surrounded by sky scrapers. In the centre sits a teal coloured taxi.

Upon arriving in Tokyo, you are bombarded by bright reds, crazy billboards and colour-coded metro mazes. Restaurants displaying plastic models of the food on offer are juxtaposed next to huge department stores and office blocks. Locals move effortlessly through the crowded umbrella tetris, always dressed formally in navy, black and white.

Districts

Tokyo is made up of a number of districts, each entirely unique. The most famous, Shibuya filled with offices and the busiest intersection in the world is home to some of the largest sky scrapers. Crossing the intersection is compulsory. Yoyogi Park and the 1964 Olympic stadium are nearby. Yoyogi is the perfect picnic spot and often hosts festivals; a walk through the park leads to the Meiji Shrine and the famous Harajuku shopping district.

Another beautiful district is Ueno, home to Ueno park, Japan’s first ever public park. In these grounds you will find a vast number of museums, an art college, a few shrines and even the Ueno Zoo! Behind the park sits Ueno lake which again is a beautiful spot to experience Japan’s greenery. Ueno and Iriya offer some great accommodation options just along from Asakusa (Taito City), Tokyo’s beautiful old town and close to the Tokyo sky tree. 

If red is more favoured, head to Shinjuku the famous red light district. The government metropolitan building offers a free trip up to the observatory. If you want to see the real electronic Japan, spend the day in Akihabara. Akihabara is Tokyo’s entertainment district and filled with arcades, anime shops and electronic stores. You’ll also find the freakishly Japanese maid cafes here. Many Japanese men pay to dine in maid cafes, where the waitresses flirt as they serve. I certainly did not try it but if that’s what floats your boat… A friend did try it and left saying, “that was the most uncomfortable experience of my entire life!

Akihabara

The Hidden Districts

Tokyo has umpteen districts to discover. A couple more include the Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza (home to the Tokyo International Forum) and Minato city. These are less touristic but worth a visit, especially Minato (home to google HQ and a large number of embassies) home to design sight, a pleasant sculpture park housing a Tadao Ando art gallery.

Tokyo International Forum

What about the food?

Now, you can’t come to Japan and avoid the food. It’s a no go. Whilst the capital does offer western alternatives, it’s basically a crime to eat in these when there is so much Japanese delicacy to try! Districts such as Ueno and Asakusa are brilliant for your cheap, authentic Japanese dinner plates: rice, meat, and miso soup. If you want incredible ramen, I heard you’re best off heading to Shibuya and Shinjuku. All department stores have basement food halls where you can pick your way through soy bean dumplings, takiyoka (octopus in batter) and all things sweet.

If you do your research (or just check tokyocheapo), you will be able to hunt down a street festival and grab at the street food! Also, you have to try the freshest sushi breakfast at Tsukiji.

(Please avoid the tuna – it’s definitely not a sustainable choice!)

On the note of sustainability

It was regrettably difficult to eat responsibly. Most fish is over fished, Blue-fin Tuna being close to extinction after falling by 96%. All restaurants use disposable chop sticks that have been chemically processed. Pretty much everything in sight comes wrapped in excessive plastic.

A few things you can do include:

  • taking a reusable water bottle (all tap water is safe).
  • buying reusable chopsticks in a 100yen store.
  • refusing plastic bags in stores.

Some vending machines offer canned drinks which is at least better than plastic. Keep hold of the can and take it to the next vending machine as you often find recycling bins next to them!

Weather

Tokyo is a great place to explore regardless of the weather. I actually turned up during June’s rain season. Whilst it’s humid and you will be armed with umbrellas all day, it’s a cheaper and much quieter season. Alternatively you could battle the crowds in May to see the cherry blossoms or pay the price in August / September. 

To go to Tokyo?

Everywhere you look, there is a building to surprise you, a colourful craze to gaze upon and a delicious meal to eat. I’d argue that Tokyo is a perfect city break with the addition of rich culture and new experiences!

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21-21 Design Sight, Minato City

Dublin

Dublin temple bar

Dublin to me, seems a combination of Amsterdam’s creative culture and America’s enthusiasm. It’s also been called a ‘little London’ in the making.

Photograph of a painted door in the https://www.littlemuseum.ie

Beth and I flew to Dublin for a city break. In just 48 hours we caught a glimpse of the crazy, poetic city. During this time we visited the Little Museum of Dublin where we were told all about the people of Dublin. Ireland as a nation has been through all sorts of tragedy and this tragedy informs various literature.

Temple Bar

Ireland is apparently famous for rain. We certainly discovered this however it made for some beautiful photographs. Wandering the cobbles of Temple Bar (a region populated by pubs hosting live folk music all day long), we dipped in and out of shelter. Grabbing a drink in The Temple Bar Pub was compulsory. Here we sat and listened to a brilliant guitarist and the lively atmosphere was the best welcome to such a vibrant city!

What’s on the List?

As with any city, there’s a huge list of incredible buildings and sites to see! 48 hours wasn’t really enough to see everything but this is what we did see:

spire
The Spire
  • Ha’penny Bridge
  • The spire
  • Trinity College
  • Dublin Castle
  • Fusilier’s arch
  • St Stephen’s Green
  • The National Gallery of Ireland
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • The National History Museum
Dublin Castle
Ha’penny Bridge
The Long Room

The best thing we saw has to be the Long Room! As part of the Book of Kells exhibition, the Long Room is a library containing over 200,000 books. Architect Thomas Burgh has definitely left himself a legacy with this incredible space! It’s seriously like something out of beauty and the beast – there are even secret passageways located in the bookshelves for passing from alcove to alcove.

Colour and Culture

Dublin makes for a colourful city break! There is so much to do and see – just make sure you take an umbrella. Spend your time dashing in and out of museums, see how many different buildings you can find and enjoy the Irish culture.

If we’d stayed another day we probably would have travelled further out to see the Kilmainham Gaol and Phoenix Park area.

The greatest thing? Dublin is a maze to get lost in. Each time you turn a corner, the streets look different. One minute you are by a Thames-like river but before you know it, you could be in Amsterdam, or somewhere else!

Bath’s Healing Waters

Bath is an incredible historic maze of architecture. For hundreds of years people have flocked to discover this city, to build upon it and bathe in its ‘healing waters.’

One thing I find so interesting is how Bath is home to the only hot, freshwater spring in the UK. The Romans discovered this and had the initiative to create the famous Roman Baths. I recently visited the museum that is there today and found myself learning some much about the ancient city.

These baths are not just the old leisure centre that gives the city its name. Attached to the ancient architectural complex was a temple to the gods. People would make pilgrimages to come and worship Aquae Sulis, bathe in healing waters and enjoy the luxuries of a spa treatment.

You can wander around what’s left of the old ruins. The museum even uses projection technology to make the temple remains come to life, allowing you to move through the space with an understanding of where the temple sits in relation to the rest of the complex. The free audio guide is also brilliant!

I love Bath and the bath stone combined with the turquoise water still to this day creates a tranquil environment. One feels as though they have stepped away from the hustle and bustle of life and entered a paradise. For years thousands of people have journeyed to these baths and I would argue that they still do, as they walk through the museum and literally stand where people once bathed.

If you’re heading to Bath, then I would definitely say that this is the best museum in the area. Also essential to understanding the city, it is great value but do make sure you book your ticket the day before!

Be sure to enjoy the photos and dream of this ancient spa!

Edinburgh

Last week I made it to Edinburgh for a December day trip. The Christmas markets were calling me and I just had to check them out. Since it’s only 90 minutes on the train, I made it to the city by 9:30, giving me the entire day to explore.

I’m pretty familiar with Edinburgh and so I spent most of the day just taking in the atmosphere. However, I have never really ventured up to Nelson’s monument so this time, my friends and I made sure to head up there.

The views are stunning! We timed the walk for sunset and the winter skyline was worth the wait! From this point you get a 360 degree view of the city and you can even look over towards Arthur’s seat.

Once the sun had set, I spent some time in the Edinburgh Christmas markets. It’s safe to say, it’s definitely bigger and better than most – it even beats Bath! However, there were so many people that I got barely any photographs. But sometimes you just have to put the camera down and enjoy the experience…

It is so nice to escape to Edinburgh every now and then! What a great city it is!

What is your go-to day trip?

London Docklands

shard London BridgeI knew it wouldn’t be long before I got bored of being settled. Six weeks after moving down south, I was desperate to get out and explore. The London docklands were calling my name. Seriously, I am suffering from some kind of “settled-down-crisis.” I thrive on new adventure.

Now that I’ve migrated, London is a really feasible distance and so at the start of November I escaped for a weekend. Whilst I have done London a few times, there is always more to discover and brand new attractions popping up all over the place.

The main purpose of my trip was to spend time with my wonderful family who all came to meet me. We were celebrating my beautiful Mum’s 50th birthday and since I’m now 6 hours away from ‘home,’ London proved to be somewhere accessible for all.

LondonSo, what did I do in the big smoke this time?

Forget tourist Thames-trips and London eye visits. We spent the weekend wandering around London Bridge, catching up with friends in the city and dining out. Using the docklands as a base was a bit of an experiment. Safe to say it’s more affordable and the new developments include some great hotels. However it does take a good hour to get across London to Paddington or Oxford Circus.

 

02 pavilionDespite this, a brand new attraction has been placed over at the docklands. Cable cars have been installed that transport you over the Thames towards the 02 arena. From these cars you get stunning views of Canary Wharf. Four weeks ago they opened an outlet shopping centre that sits on the circumference of the 02 arena. This has brought a fair bit of trade to the 02 pavilion and is a brilliant place to eat out. The riverside is also full of colour and as you can even climb up the 02 itself should you find yourselves daring for a challenge!

November in the city was just what I needed. I definitely recommend it if you’re a commutable distance because sometimes you just need to escape – right?

London docklands

02 pavilion

Hortus Botanicus

Hortus Botanicus is an amazing place!

Whilst in Amsterdam I visited the Hortus Botanicus botanical gardens and I set to work with all of the best macro techniques! They even have a butterfly house there which made for some truly beautiful shots.

I haven’t picked up my camera to do a themed series of photographs in so long! The photography section of this blog has been so neglected recently. Botanics are one of my favourite subjects; they are colourful and create brilliant abstract forms. Here’s a series I’ve put together from my Amsterdam trip!strong purple flower spreading open

Close up of the center of a sunflower star-like abstract form of a bluebell abstract yellow form created by petals side profile of a butterfly closeup profile of a butterfly's antennae close up Birdseye of a butterfly's wing span bright yellow flower against a dark green background portrait image of dark green foliage, framing a spiders web in the centre, upon which a spider is silhouetted by the sunlight Beautiful green palm leaves potted in a wooden pot cacti leaves with the view of one of Amsterdam's canals behindI defintely recommend a trip to your local botanical gardens! Here are a few UK places:
If you are heading to Amsterdam, you can find more information regarding the cities “flower attractions,” here.
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