A Neighbourhood Gem: Robson St. Yoga

Vancouver is known as the yoga capital of Canada. According to my wonderful yoga instructors, literally, in every corner you walk to, there’s a yoga studio tucked in somewhere.  True enough, if you’re in the heart of downtown Vancouver, you’ll find a yoga studio somehow and somewhere.

While staying in Vancouver a few months ago, I didn’t want to miss out on trying a yoga class. After all, I was in the yoga capital of Canada! In between my packed itinerary, I managed to squeeze in a little time for some yoga. To my joy, I found one a few steps away from my hotel on Robson Street, west end of Vancouver.

The location of this yoga studio is so discreet that if one passed by it, you wouldn’t notice it. The outside studio sign is mixed with other signs. It is located in a little market/plaza/mall called “Robson Public Market”.

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The yoga sign is on the side of this market, underneath the Canada Post sign

When I entered this building, I had no idea what to expect. I only had a feeling it wouldn’t be like the fancy studios that I’m used to due to its location.

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Robson St. Yoga shares space with an eclectic variety of shops

Robson St. Yoga is on the second floor, above the produce market. Yogis are greeted by this nice entrance with its logo sign plastered at the front, and leave their shoes outside before entering the yoga space.

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To my pleasant surprise the yoga space was simply a basic room with minimal decoration (there are 2 photos of people doing a yoga pose, a buddha statue and a handmade yoga sign on the high back wall). The room was only big enough to fit in 12 people, which was why, I found out when I arrived, students were supposed to sign up online for a space in class. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in as the last student and pay the drop in fee ($15). Our yoga instructor had an iPad to sign all of us in. Another delightful surprise awaiting me was that yoga mats were provided for free and already laid out for every student who signed up. Instead of using my travel yoga mat, I decided to use one of these mats. I really liked this idea and after class, we just had to clean the mat with the studio’s spray and towel.

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Yoga mats already laid out for students

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A view of yoga room from the front

 

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Cleaning towel and spray provided for us to clean our yoga mats after class

I did the one hour “Morning Flow” class with Katy as my instructor. Since this was a morning class, it had an energetic pace to it and the poses were based on Ashtanga. Katy introduced me to a few new poses I’ve never done before and I really liked the way she taught us through her easy to follow instructions. Therefore, I felt even though I’ve never done these poses before I could do it! At the end of class, I felt rejuvenated and calm and could continue my hectic day of sightseeing around Vancouver. 🙂

At the end of class, I had a chance to chat with Katy about this studio, life and the simplicity of it all. I learned that the owner of this studio wanted to offer a quiet sanctuary that is easily accessible and affordable for everyone in the neighbourhood; hence, Robson St. Yoga was created. This is why only the locals know about it.

From my conversation with Katy, and this yoga studio, I learned that”less is more”. You don’t need a lot of fanciness to open a yoga studio or do yoga; all you need is a welcoming space (room) where the students feel safe to participate in an ancient healthy practise that’s good for the body, mind and soul. In the same way, keep life simple by following your heart and do what you love, and then you’ll find happiness and peacefulness: body, mind and soul.

I think Robson St. Yoga is a true reflection of the simplicity of life and the use of a purposeful space for community building.

I highly recommend this gem of a yoga studio to anyone living in or visiting Vancouver! 🙂

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This inviting table is placed in front of the entrance door, and allows anyone in the community to browse through the resources and learn a bit what yoga is all about.

To learn more about this yoga studio, visit http://www.robsonstyoga.ca

 

 

Red Fish Blue Fish: Best Fish & Chips with a Beautiful View in Victoria, BC!

A friend of mine recommended that I have to try Red Fish Blue Fish if I visit Victoria, British Columbia. According to him, it is very popular and they make the best Fish & Chips from fresh and sustainable fish. Therefore, the minute we stepped off the bus that took us from the ferry terminal into downtown Victoria, we went in search for this famous place.

I was looking forward to trying some tasty Fish & Chips since the last time I had the best ones ever was in London, England about 2 years ago. Ever since returning to Canada, the Fish & Chips I’ve tried have been rather disappointing since I tasted more batter and oil than the actual fish.

When we arrived around 11:30am, there was already a line up! We assumed it was a sit-down restaurant, but it turned out to be a little eatery, made of an “up-cycled cargo container” (according to its website).
Red Fish Blue Fish lineup1

We used the time while waiting to examine the menu and debated what kind of Fish & Chips to have. There were so many yummy options other than Fish & Chips but we couldn’t try them since we had to leave some room in our tummies for our Afternoon Tea at the Empress afterwards, so in the end we decided we will just try Fish & Chips.

Red Fish Blue Fish Menu

We shared 1 piece of Salmon Fish & Chips and 1 piece of Cod Fish & Chips. Each fish came with tartar sauce, coleslaw and Kennebec chips. I wanted to try the salmon since it is well known in British Columbia and I’ve never had Salmon Fish & Chips before. Ordering 1 piece of Fish & Chips is enough since the portion size is large and it tastes sooooooooooooooo good! When you bite into the fish, you can actually taste the freshness and tenderness of it. The batter was made just right;  it was light and crispy, and you can barely taste or feel the deep fry oil, unlike some other Fish & Chips I’ve tried. Paired with the tartar sauce, coleslaw and the side of well-seasoned crispy Kennebec fries, it was perfect!

Overall, we enjoyed the Salmon Fish & Chips more than the Cod Fish & Chips because we found that there was more “meat” to eat than the cod. The salmon had more flesh whereas the cod had less so when you bite into it, you taste more of the batter and less of the fish. Therefore, we felt cheated! However, that’s just a personal preference. Some people might prefer the taste of cod more so they will of course savour every little bite they can get from it.

Besides having the most delicious and affordable Fish & Chips in the city, Red Fish Blue Fish also has one of the most beautiful views of Victoria’s waterfront through its outdoor seating on the wooden pier. Nothing beats eating super delicious Fish & Chips with a view like the one below on a warm sunny summer day! 🙂

Red Fish Blue Fish food with view

When we left, the line was still long and it seemed never ending. Clearly, it shows how popular this place is because of its food and the wait in line is well worth it in the end.

I will definitely come back to Red Fish Blue Fish someday! 🙂

 

For more info on Red Fish Blue Fish, visit their website: http://www.redfish-bluefish.com

Red Fish, Blue Fish on Urbanspoon

PappaRoti: Most Delicious Bun in Vancouver!

 

PappaRoti_frontshop

While we were in Vancouver, we discovered this cute little café, PappaRoti, right across from our hotel. We fell in love with its signature caramel coffee bun! In my opinion, it’s kind of like a mix of a Chinese pineapple bun and a fluffy pancake. Its caramelized-coated top is crispy and crunchy while the inside is soft and warm, filled with butter that simply melts in your mouth! This bun is a combination of salty and sweet.

PappaRoti_bunandtea
The bun can be eaten separately, paired nicely with a cup of coffee or tea, or with a combo which consists of a variety of toppings (e.g. local organic jams, kaya etc.). I tried their recommended combos: Banana & Nutella, Strawberries & Whipped Cream, and Ice Cream & Maple Syrup. All these combos were delicious. The Ice Cream & Maple Syrup adds a little Canadian flavour and is simply decadent! I found the toppings from these 3 combos were a lot, so I had to order a second bun to enjoy every single indulgent bite. 🙂

Bun with Kaya (coconut jam)

Bun with Cream Cheese

Bun with Banana & Nutella

Bun with Banana & Nutella

Bun with Strawberries & Whipped Cream

Bun with Strawberries & Whipped Cream

Bun with Ice Cream & Maple Syrup

Bun with Ice Cream & Maple Syrup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We loved the buns so much that we actually returned to this café a few times during our week stay in Vancouver. The cafe seems to have a steady flow of customers from morning till night, from tourists, to regulars in the neighbourhood to friends finding it as a nice place to hang out. We even observed what seems to be an English conversational group holding a session there in the morning. This means that people find the environment very comfortable, and conducive to conversations.

Aside from its signature bun, PappaRoti also has…

-a warm and welcoming ambiance

Cozy back area for people to sit and chat comfortably

Cozy back area for people to sit and chat comfortably

A view of cafe from the front

A view of cafe from the front

A nice sunny area during the daytime to sit and even read a book from the bookshelf if you like!

A nice sunny area during the daytime to sit and even read a book from the bookshelf if you like!

A communal table facing the TV

A communal table facing the TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-friendly and courteous staff

-beautiful presentation of food as shown in photos above

Sample of bun for customers to try

Sample of bun for customers to try

-an array of local organic jam and tea

Samples of local jams and teas that they serve

Samples of local jams and teas that they serve

-this cool tea timer to make your perfect cup of tea!

PappaRoti_tea timer

For someone who has been gluten-free and dairy-free for over a year now, eating PappaRoti’s bun is worth breaking my dietary restrictions, while on vacation. The way I see it, just like its motto, I’m enjoying life one scrumptious bun at a time. 😉

PappaRoti is a must visit and eat place in Vancouver!!

I’m excited to find out that PappaRoti is actually an international chain and has one in South Korea, which is my next summer travel destination. I’m looking forward to finding it there!!

I’m excited to find out that PappaRoti is actually an international chain and has one in South Korea, which is my next summer travel destination. I’m looking forward to finding it there!!

To check out PappaRoti Canada, go on their website: http://papparoti.ca/

PappaRoti on Urbanspoon

10 Vancouver Must-Dos List

I just came back from a much-needed relaxing one week vacation to Vancouver, British Columbia after one intense month of wrapping up the end of the school year, and getting ready for my exciting summer teach abroad opportunity, and moving to a new school for September.

The past week has been incredible as I was able to explore and discover the beauty of Vancouver and its surroundings, and experience the laid back lifestyle of the Vancouverites. Part of this vacation was made so much better with the companionship of my good high school friend Sheena, and also my Vancouverite friend Greg, who has such a wealth of knowledge of his city and province. Thank you to both! 🙂

Vancouver is such a beautiful and eclectic city in Western Canada. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, a history buff or interested in trying out a variety of activities, there is definitely something to do for everyone there.

Here are my top 10 favourite things I enjoyed doing and seeing while in Vancouver and hopefully this list will entice you to visit Vancouver as your next travel destination!

1. For Cyclists: Biking around Stanley Park via Seawall

StanleyParkBiking

Stanley Park is a huge public park located in the West End of Vancouver and it is very bike friendly. It has a path called Seawall, where one can bike, cycle or in-line skate around the park. Sheena and I enjoyed a very pleasant day biking all around the Seawall, savouring the scenic views along the way and stopping whenever we wanted to take photos or rest. There are benches spread throughout the park and logs placed on the beaches for sitting. This urban park is like a peaceful paradise in the midst of the city.

Tip: End your biking at Kitsilano Beach where you can get a beautiful view of the sunset around 9pm.

 

2. For Lovers of Shakespeare: Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park

BardonBeach

If you love Shakespeare as much as I do, this summer festival cannot be missed! It runs from June to September and is located by the beautiful waterfront in Vanier Park. Plays are performed in open-ended tents, where the backdrop is the magnificent view of mountains, sea and sky. We saw an evening performance of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and loved it a lot because it added a modern twist to it with some 21st century fashion and music thrown in as well.

Tip #1: If you have time before the show, walk around the waterfront in Vanier Park so you can see the natural beauty all around you.

Tip #2: The weather cools down in the evening, so dress for the evening weather by either wearing layered clothing/long pants or bring a light jacket.

 

3. For Yogis & Yoginis: Yoga Everywhere!

YogaRobson
Vancouver is known as the yoga capital of Canada and literally everywhere you go, there will be signs of a yoga studio nearby. Of course I had to try a yoga class! Luckily, I found one right in the heart of where I was staying in West End Vancouver. The exciting part is that this local yoga studio is a secret gem in the neighbourhood and not a lot of people know about it. I will be blogging about my yoga experience there soon so stay tuned! 😉

Tip: BoredInVancouver has a good post on free yoga around the city so check out
http://www.boredinvancouver.com/listings/free-yoga-vancouver-by-donation/

 

4. For Nature Lovers & Hikers: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

CapilanoBridge
You can easily spend a few hours here because the suspension bridge is not the only attraction; it also has trails for walking/hiking. As well, it has its Treetops Adventure and Cliffwalk where you can walk to get closer views of the rainforest, and the Capilano River and Canyon. I found it fascinating that in the middle of the city there is a rainforest. I learned a lot about vegetation in this part of the province during this trip. This place is another peaceful oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Tip #1: Even though it is about 10-15 minutes away from downtown Vancouver, we really appreciated the free shuttle bus service offered by the park for tourists like us who don’t like driving a car. The shuttle bus service is frequent; it runs every 15 minutes. The stops are located in several key places in downtown for pickup and drop off. Here is the free shuttle bus service schedule: http://www.capbridge.com/visit/shuttle-service/

Tip #2: The fudge is freshly made here and is a must eat! There are so many flavours to choose from and the fudge shop is located in the souvenir gift shop called “Trading Post”. I think the sea salt chocolate fudge is out of this world!!

Tip #3: If you’re not too tired after this adventure, you can drive over or take the bus to nearby Grouse Mountain to hike up the challenging and steep hiking trail known as the Grouse Grind. It takes about an hour and a half to hike all the way up. Once you’re up there, you can get a beautiful view of the city, sea and mountains.

 

5. For Foodies and Sushi Lovers: Sushi is a Must!

Sushi selection at Fujiya Japanese Foods

Sushi selection at Fujiya Japanese Foods

As my friend Greg pointed out when we were on our city tour walk, Vancouver is a highly Asian-populated or influenced city. It seems almost around every corner, we were greeted by Asian restaurants. Therefore, what better place to have freshly made sushi by Japanese chefs than in Vancouver? We tasted a variety of sushi from restaurants and even bought some from this Japanese supermarket (“Fujiya Japanese Foods” on 912 Clark Drive) for a picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park, another beautiful park with gardens and panoramic view over the city. There were so many different kinds of sushi to choose from in Fujiya that it kind of got overwhelming. 😛 My final verdict on the sushi from Fujiya is that they are not only cheap, but also fresh and super delicious!

Tip: If you come all the way to British Columbia (BC), you have to try the BC Roll. It is a roll that has barbecued salmon and cucumber since BC is known for its wild pacific salmon. I think it’s so yummy!

 

6. For Shoppers, Foodies & People Watching: Robson Street

We discovered this cute Japanese cafe on Robson street that specializes in yummy parfaits for desserts.

We discovered this cute Japanese cafe on Robson street that specializes in yummy parfaits for desserts.

If you love to spend a day strolling, shopping, eating and people watching, this is the street for you! This busy teeming street is filled with ethnic restaurants, coffee shops, sports bars, lounges, grocery stores and shops. There are a variety of shops from big names to little boutiques, and even a few souvenir shops in between. If you get tired from shopping, you can simply buy a cup of coffee/tea and sit outside on a patio and people watch for fun! 🙂

 

7. For Beach Goers: English Bay Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach (located in Stanley Park), Kitsilano Beach & Sunset Beach

Third Beach

Third Beach

Vancouver is surrounded by beaches, so it is definitely worth to hit up one or more of these beaches and enjoy them whether you want to swim, walk, windsurf, sail, bask in the sun or just play in the sand. I thoroughly enjoyed just sitting on one of its many logs placed on these beaches, observing the beautiful landscape.

 

8. For Photographers: Scenic Route along Whistler

The drive from Vancouver to Whistler and vice-versa is simply breathtaking. There were so many scenic views along the way that I’ll share some notable stops with you here:

Shannon Falls Provincial Park

Shannon Falls Provincial Park

Green Lake Provincial Park

Green Lake Provincial Park

 

Stawamus Chief (a.k.a as the Chief) where people challenge themselves by rock climbing!

Stawamus Chief (a.k.a as the Chief) where people challenge themselves by rock climbing!

Porteau Cove, Provincial Marine Park

Porteau Cove, Provincial Marine Park where scuba diving is possible

 

A view of Vancouver city from the peak of Cypress Mountain

A view of Vancouver city from the peak of Cypress Mountain

 

9. For History Buffs: Victoria

A view of the waterfront and British Columbia  Parliament Buildings

A view of the waterfront and British Columbia Parliament Buildings

We thought if we come all the way to Vancouver, we might as well take a day trip to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, known for its British charm. This city is named after Queen Victoria of England, and is one of the oldest cities in Western Canada. The British settled here in the 1843. The British influence is evident in its historical buildings, architecture, double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal gardens and tearooms around the city. We enjoyed leisurely strolling around the major streets and the waterfront area which is pretty and buzzing with activity from buskers performing to artisans and artists selling their work of art. As passionate foodies, we could not resist trying two British meals in famous places while here in Victoria. We had fish and chips for lunch at the popular Red Fish Blue Fish and Afternoon Tea at the majestic Fairmont Empress Hotel. I will be blogging about both food experiences so keep an eye out for them. 🙂

Tip #1: When we arrived to Vancouver, we learned that Victoria is actually very far from Vancouver, and it takes about 4 hours to reach Victoria via bus and ferry boat. At the suggestion of our hotel’s front desk, we decided to book our transportation to and from Victoria through a company called Pacific Coach. They specialize in their Cross Water Service and we found it very easy to reach their bus terminal (Pacific Central Station) from our hotel to board their bus and then we didn’t have to worry about the rest of our trip. See http://www.pacificcoach.com/Bus-Coach-Travel/Crosswater/Vancouver-to-Victoria

Tip #2: The scenic views from the ferry boat was simply stunning. Make sure you go on to the top deck to experience the magic and natural beauty all around you. Bring a light jacket/sweater as it tends to be cooler outside.

Morning ferry ride to Victoria

Morning ferry ride to Victoria

Sunset ferry ride back to Vancouver

Sunset ferry ride back to Vancouver

 

10. For Lululemon Addicts: Lululemon Lab

LululemonLab
If you are a fan of Lululemon clothing, you have to visit this place, where it all began! Be prepared that it is a small retail and fashion space where innovative Lululemon items are designed, produced and sold all in one space. The majority of the products are in neutral colours of black, white, gray and navy blue, and are created in limited quantities. I found the staff to be super friendly, helpful and honest.  The cool feature of this store is that you get to see the seamstresses at work, creating the designs for this shop only, based on the design boards. Lastly, you get pleasure knowing that when you walk out of this shop, you are one of a very few people owning a piece of unique Lululemon clothing, made in Vancouver, that will most likely not be sold in the regular Lululemon stores.