Where to visit on San Cristóbal, Galápagos Islands

If you’re a fan of nature and animals, then you must visit the Galápagos Islands. Many people do this via boat cruises, which travel to each island. You can also base yourself on one island and catch ferries to other islands such as Santa Cruz or Isabella. Each island have their own varieties of animals and in Isabella in particular you can see Flamingoes and sea lions are everywhere!

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We only had a short visit to the Galapagos on our around the world trip, and specially visited San Cristobal.

Tips

When leaving Quito or Quayaquil, ensure to get your entry card for the Galapagos. It is $20 and be sure to have USD. We’re not sure what it’s for, but you need one to enter.

You also need $100 USD (cash only) per person for fee upon arrival. Apparently to contribute to conservation.

When you arrive, move outside and the white pick up trucks are the taxi. To drive into town, it should cost approx $2.

If you’re planning to look around town, most places open around 10am with a few cafes open early. Most shops are also closed in the afternoon and open late.

Places advertise wi-fi, but it’s extremely weak with some good bursts in the early morning. So make sure to do any necessary research before visiting.

If you need to do laundry, it’s very cheap, nearby the Main Street for $1.50 a kg.

See our more detailed info below in regards to where to stay, visit and eat.

Where to stay

Keep in mind you’re on an environmentally conscious island and with only a certain number of occupants and travellers at one time, accomodation is pricy. It is also fairly dated, no need for Reno’s I presume, since guests are there for the animals, not fancy hotels.

We booked our accomodation through Air Bnb since many options on the Island were quite expensive. Our accomodation was called Casa Maybell, which was nice and the owner Mercedes was very accommodating. It was a small room, but had a TV, air conditioning, a private bathroom and it was cleaned each day. You are sharing the building with other guests and there is a bathroom to share. Super close to the ferry/boat terminal and restaurants. Wifi is poor but that’s throughout the island.

We later found out that hostal Emmanuel offers private rooms for $25 a night. A good cheap option and run by the same people as the point cafe (which we mention later).

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Where to eat

Calypso

Calypso is a restaurant, pizza shop, ice cream bar and coffee shop. We went there daily for
coffee, which we found to be the best coffee on the Island for both filtered and milk based. It was a spectacle to just watch the barista make the coffee. They dry their own beans out the back and also roast. If you like filtered coffee the syphon method is not only cool, it produces a great coffee. The staff are also very welcoming and friendly. It’s a nice place to chill, just like the seals out front next to the San Cristobal sign.

The Point Cafe

This cafe is run by a cool group of guys who moved to San Cristobal from Santa Cruz for the surf. The staff are all very friendly and Nicholas, one of the guys who runs this place has seen every inch of the archipelago, so he will send you in the right direction for any water based activities. They do a great breakfast for $5 it is one of the better omelettes that you will try. It comes with a serve of fruit salad, fresh juice, bread with house made jam and unlimited refills of coffee and tea. They also do a nice granola, with fruit and yogurt.

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Kioskito puerto lobo

This is great local joint set up in a small hut and here you can try some tasty seafood including lobster.

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The langosta (lobster) is well priced between $15 and $20, for a whole lobster, depending on the flavours and toppings of the dish. The Langosta del marisco, which is lobster served in its shell with a seafood sauce containg fish, octopus and prawns and is delicious. They also do a whole fish and also a coconut fish as well as a local dish called bolon. Bolon translates to ball, it is pretty much a doughy ball made with platain, corn and cheese and whatever else you decide on. Kioskito is also in a great location, right on the bay. The service here is slow but it is also very friendly and it is a popular place for the locals to hang out on a Sunday.

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Midori Japanese restaurant and bar

This is a great place to enjoy an afternoon beverage. The cocktails here are excellent and is especially hard to find a good cocktail in South America, many are overly sweet. The Maracuya Mojito was amazing! The food here is also quality and the portions are large. The food is a little pricer, but this is one of the nicer restaurants on the island. The shimp salad is a good option for $8 and with lettuce, carrot, beetroot and avocado is relatively healthy, other than the fried prawns and wonton, which were very tasty and added another level of texture. The sesame coated tuna for $14 consisted of two very large portions of tuna served with rice and salad. The fire roll for $14.50 is a cool dish with some flaming theatrics. The dish is doused with a flaming shot of sake at the table, very cool or should we say hot. It is a tasty sushi roll with an interesting texture from being fried, the sake flavour is quite strong, but this can be negated with some of the passionfruit or teriyaki dipping sauce provided. Frank, the young bartender/waiter is a cool guy and his English is excellent, good for a conversation and tips on what to do on the island.

Muju

Is an upmarket restaurant situated right on Playa de Oro beach and there are plenty of seals nearby, to keep you occupied whilst waiting for your meal. It is probably the nicest looking restaurant on the Island and this is reflected in the price, which is not outrageously expensive. This restaurant is not for profit helping empower women and helping Ecuadoreans enter the Gastronomic world, with hospitality training at this venue. We stopped in for their lunch specials. We sampled the lobster soup for $6, which was delicious. The fish was served with roast vegetables and mash was also nicely prepared $12. All of the meals were beautifully presented. The A la Carte menu is a little pricier and it would have been good to try their lobster tasting menu, however we ran out of time.

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Cabana mi Grande

It is a good cheap option for all meals. The Bolon with steak was a very popular choice with most diners around us, enjoying this for their meal. It is probably a good choice as the bolon on its own does not have much flavour. The black berry juice was really good. A standard breakfast set is $4.

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Rancho Manabita

Another restaurant specialising in local cuisine and claiming to be organic too. The atmosphere is very casual and service is friendly. If visiting at night, bring some mosquito repellant, as it is located close to the lagoon. There are plenty of seafood options. The ceviche for $10 was tasty, as was the lobster at $23. Although the lobster was not served in its shell it was a nice meal.

What to see and do

You can amuse yourself for hours simply watching the sea lions, turtles, crabs and iguanas on the rocks and in the water on the pier for free. However if you want more informative tours, then you can book them too.

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360 tour

We booked our tour through Darwin Scuba Dive, but you can book it though pretty much any agent. They are all pretty much the same, the tour should cost $140 which is a fair price, your hostal/hotel should be able to point you in the right direction. Our provider was great and the admin staff can speak English. This tour is a must when visiting San Cristobal. 360 tour is an all day tour with a naturalist guide. The tour starts at 7:30am from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and returns at around 5pm. The tour operator should provide you with snorkel, fins (flippers) and a wetsuit. If you are susceptible to the cold or sun, insist that the agent provide you with a full wetsuit which will cover most of you body including your arms and legs.

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The first stop on the tour was the the amazing Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), out in the ocean but visible from the island. A great spot for snorkelling. It is a little daunting jumping into the deep blue water. But it is made easier with a sea lion cub and mother playfully swimming around, whilst waiting for the whole group to jump in. Once everyone is assembled, we swam between the rocks, and saw plenty of fish, sea lions and some small Galapagos sharks (Tiburon). Following this, we swam around the rocks which are covered in star fish and sea urchins. We also come across a couple of sea turtles (tortuga). Just before getting back into the boat, we caught a quick glimpse of a larger shark that came up for a peek and quickly disappeared.

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The boat then passed through the caves of Cerro Brujo and the boat driver will attempt to get you a photo of kicker rock through the cave. The water was getting a little rough for the perfect photo.

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Then the tour motors to Sardinia Bay, where you enjoy the beach for an hour whilst the boats go fishing. You can explore this secluded beach or go for a snorkel. On the water you will see Sea Lions, some large sea turtles, large bait balls of fish and if you know what to look for some octopus (pulpo) Tip: look for a pile of shells near a hole or crevice in the sand.

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We are the off to Punta Pitt to see some birds and some boobies of the avian variety. We spot three types of boobies including blue and red footed, along with some kestrals.

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The best is saved for last with a visit to Bahia Rosa Blanca. First, we have lunch on the boat which is a simple meal of rice and meat, nothing spectacular, but we were very hungry and it quickly disappeared. Whist eating, we spotted a baby shark swimming around the boat in the shallows. Once lunch was over, we did a quick land walking tour. We got close to a blue footed boobie, that was not at all phased by humans, with us even joking that it was nailed to the rock. We spotted a couple of playful seals who were happy to pose for some snaps.

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We then had a look through Darwin’s window, which is a large rock with an erroded hole. After this we cooled off with a swim in the lagoon with our snorkels, where we saw some giant sea turtles, a huge sting ray and a school of solid white tip sharks having a siesta on the bottom of the lagoon. The tour said there would then be some game fishing which didn’t eventuate as the sea was too rough. The boat ride back from this spot was about an hour boat ride back to the wharf. The swimming locations were calm but the boat ride was very bumpy so probably not a good idea if you’re prone to seasickness.

Highland tour

There’s plenty of companies offering highland tours but you can do most of the sites yourself with a taxi driver. We hired a local taxi for $50-$60 dollars, which took roughly 3 hours to see and do the below activities.

On our tour we visited the treehouse first. For $2 you can see this quirky place. It’s a huge that you can climb via a small suspension bridge and in the tree it is possible to stay as there is a toilet, small kitchen, two beds and a fireman’s pole to get food and drink up or even slide down. We just went to visit.

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Next you will pass El Junco, a lagoon inside a crater. To reach this you will need to complete a relatively easy 700 meter hike up and back down. The landscape if much different from what you will see a lower levels. It is quite green with many ferns growing in the area. It was a nice walk, shame about the fog, we didn’t get the best view of the crater lagoon. Apparently this area is commonly prone to fog so it would need to be a very clear day for a good view.

We were then off to our the Galapaguera, which is host to many Giant tortoises and is also a breeding centre. It is another relatively easy walk up to the breeding centre, where you will see some larger tortoise along the way and tame enough for photos. They have the babies sectioned off in different areas, once they are 5 years old, the tortoise are released to roam free.

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We followed this with a visit to the white sand beach of Puerto Chino. This beach is open to the ocean swell with waves and rip currents, it is recommended that you only swim here if proficient. There are Sea Lions who will playfully body surf with you. There were also a number of sea turtles swimming around.

Free Tour

If you are on a budget, get a map of the island from the information centre located on Av Charles Darwin which follow the forehore, the information centre is toward the Navy Base.

Hire yourself some snorkeling gear for $5 and head out toward Tijeretas. Visit the Interpretation centre along the way. The interpretation is free and has all sorts of information on the Galapagos, including Charles Darwin, early settlement of the islands and the current state of the islands, as well as conservation.

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This can be followed by a 15 walking a further 15 minutes to Tijeretas Beach and view point. Tijeretas is not really a beach, more of a rocky dive spot, where you can snorkel with sea turtles, spot some fish and swim with playful sea lions. There is also the sandy beach of Playa Punta Carola and the secluded beach Playa Baquerizo both not too far away.

Where to go in Los Cabos

Los Cabos is basically a resort town & a party town. You can quite easily stay to the refines of your resort, which are basically huge hotels with pools, restaurants, entertainment and a space to relax. Or you can venture into town where there is a marina and market style shops and bars. This is all very touristy and there are touts everywhere. You will find watered down drinks and cheap food options though. If you’re up for a party, there’s plenty of clubs. We’d recommend sticking to your hotel but venturing out for a walk around at some point.

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Where to stay 

Playa Grande 

We selected this hotel because it looked amazing in photos, very relaxing and plenty of pools. It is a picturesque location and extremely clean and immaculately groomed. We got a great room down near the ocean end. It’s massive with a huge balcony, lounge dining area as well as a kitchenette if you want to buy groceries and eat in. Check in is quite late (4pm) which is super late since check out for other guests is 11. If you’re early like us, they’ll let you sit by the pool and have a towel. The pools are great and there is even a separate adult one with swim up bar.

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Waiters will take your order for food and drinks and bring it without too much wait. Everything can get charged to your room. If you’re doing an all inclusive package – this might save you lots of money because we spent a lot of money on food and drink. A grocery store and coffee cart sells your daily needs and there’s also a fitness centre ($11 a day). The internet is also $13 a day. You can get taxis and shuttles easily from the front of the hotel. It’s also an easy walk to the marina and restaurants nearby. Staff here have extremely good English, they are all super polite and helpful. Entertainment staff provide pool and beside pool activities for families.

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Where to eat and drink 

Taco Loco

For a cheap local feed you can visit here for 4 tacos (meat of your choice, with toppings) and a beer for only $8. Bargain. Not far from the Marina.

Sancho’s

A fairly seedy bar selling plenty of drinks and tequila. Grab some nachos, burgers or fried food and you’re set. Tacos are more American style than traditional Mexican ones, ie with the melted cheese. It is also home to the pink taco, which we ordered for amusement value.

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Slims Bar

This is apparently the worlds smallest bar. 4 bar stools and the walls are covered in 1 dollar bills which people have written on. They only serve beer and tequila. The tequila is a bit expensive but it is a cool little bar.

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Daikou

We were craving some Japanese and found this on Yelp. A quaint little restaurant with cool water features outside in a small garden. The food was excellent and served extremely fast. We had thin salmon sashimi, gyoza, ramen and shrimp teppanyaki. The cocktails we also very good. Our waiter Victor provided excellent service and even offered to show us the wine cellar at the end. The prices are quite expensive and we didn’t quite have enough money with us. They kindly gave us a ten percent discount which we greatly appreciated.

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Mi Casa

If you are after some quality local cusine in the main tourist precinct of Cabo San Lucas, Mi Casa is the place. It is a little cheaper to eat here for lunch and they do great shrimp Tacos, but be warned the portions are on a Grande scale, just like the fish in the area. At night it is a little more costly, it is busier and the restaurant has a great atmosphere. When we visited, they had a clown making cool hats out of balloons. There was also a mariachi band, allowing you to choose songs of your liking. For mains, the steak and pork were both superb, very tender and succulent. Most definitely our favourite dining experience in Mexico. Be sure to make a booking as this place gets busy.

 

Coffee

We didn’t find any good coffee here, it may be hidden somewhere. We ended up drinking at Starbucks, their cold brew suffient for our caffeine fix whilst in Cabo.

What to do 

Massage – Destiny spa pacific 

The resorts are selling massages for approx $220 USD or more. Whilst that might be nice for a once off and a very comforting experience, we don’t justify that price. We found a massage place selling 70 minute massage for only $19.99!! It was a nice and relaxing massage and they adjusted the pressure when asked. They do also do cheap manicure and pedicures.

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Dolphin Discovery (In Cabo San Jose)

There’s a few different dolphin encounters available. I went to the one in Cabo San Jose because it’s the only one offering the foot push experience. I bought my ticket online but I would recommend researching a lot and maybe even buying in town, but never pay full price because they’re always offering discounts. You can choose from three different experiences and I selected the encounter with memories. This was super. The shuttle will pick you up from your hotel, as well as a few other people. I had a wonderful driver called Diego. After an hour we arrive at the location on the ma

Surfing

There are plenty of places to surf in Cabo San Jose which has some fun reef breaks, beware there is some localism, show respect and you will be ok. We also surfed Cerrito, which has some fun beach breaks to surf, Cerrito is a good spot to learn to surf and the locals are friendly. We hired a board from Costa Azul surf shop in San Jose for $20 a day, which seems to be the going rate. They also have a shop in Cerrito Beach.

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Sara who works in the San Jose storestore is really helpful and friendly. Hire a board for less than the intended amount of time as there are no refunds, but they will give store credit, allowing for some souvenirs like shirts, singlets etc…

Although we didn’t do any fishing, there’s plenty of people selling fishing trips to catch some big fish including marlin.

We hope you have a great time if you go to Cabo – feel free to ask any questions.

Where to go for street hawker Thai in Sydney CBD @ Abb Air

Beneath the simple allure of Abb Air’s menu lies a multitude of flavours, each with its own story. The recipes of Abb Air have been passed down through generations preserving the traditional Thai taste. Using fresh herbs, authentic spices, fresh ingredients and exotic seasoning, they redefine traditional dishes to ensure all customers receive an unparalleled Thai dining experience.

In Thailand, there is no such thing as a starter, main or dessert.  There is also no one person at the table a dish belongs to.  The number of dishes ordered equal the number of diners sat down to eat and everything is shared and enjoyed together.

Chef Oliver, Chef Aoody, Chef Prem have combined decades of experience, a fountain of knowledge and heart into creating the contemporary Thai menu.  A trio of ‘Chef’s Recommendations’ showcases the cohesiveness in their respective specialities and experience. 

The Chef’s Recommended dish is called “LOVE” – a crab stick roll with enoki mushroom and fish wrapped in seawood and jeweled with salmon roe – the combination of flavors living up to the expectations of the art form that’s served to the table. Freshness of the seafood and smokiness in the mushroom ends with bursts of roe.  The dish living up to its name in taste and also beauty.  

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The pork sausage is lean weaving in gluttonous rice, while the chive dumplings are crisp on the outside and topped with deep fried garlic and was a great accompaniment.  

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A selection of mains revolve around heat.   Papaya Salad and the Red Duck Curry were beautifully executed, much in the same way you would expect on the street stalls of Bangkok, balanced out with the original fried rice. 

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There’s something classy about soft shell crab with crispy fried greens, taking street food to a new level. 

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The Hotpot is the essential winter warmer, a broth that’s prepared for hours with mixed seafood absorbing that intense flavor. 

A luxurious velvetty theme of Pandan, a lime coloured asian vanilla flavour that themes their desserts and some of their ice tea.

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The communal  dining experience, the social nature of Thai people embodied by the staff and it’s central location in World Square make it a great meeting point for a catchup while enjoying over modern interpretations of Thai classics. 

Joseph Lloyd, contributor.

 

Abb Air: Thai Cuisine 1982 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to go in Vancouver: Part 2

Grouse Mountain

Pay your admission to Grouse mountain for $56 for adults or a whole family for $150 and you get a skyride round trip and peak chair ride. In the park there’s also plenty of activities like a skyride (aerial tram), a bird demonstration, a lumberjack show, a chairlift, zip line, shopping, dining and more. You can also go on guided walks or hear ranger talks.
If you want to do a Zipline, mountain biking, heli tours, it is an extra cost.

The skyride up and down was a 6 minute cable car with amazing views of Vancouver and fits about 90 people.

The lumberjack show was great, a little comedic but was worth a watch to see the entertainment and skills. We also enjoyed the bird show with the host showing a few different birds, teaching us about them and seeing their skills demonstrated.

It is also home to two grizzly bears called Grinder and Coola and we enjoyed watching them in the water playing with food and eating.

We did the ridge walk (about 1.5 hour walk up), quite challenging to get to the top in the heat, but once up there it had a 360 degree panoramic views. If you’re up for more of a challenge, you can do the grouse grind, a solid walk from the car park to the mountain (instead of the skyride).

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Granville Island

It has heaps of boutiques and galleries selling souvenirs, art, native art, clothing, jewellery. There’s also plenty of food in the public market from bakeries to fish and chips and sushi. We grabbed lemon donut and tasted a couple of other things. There’s also restaurants and a brewery. We tried out a beer flight and a cider at the brewery. You can pick the beers you want in the flight. They even had a beer called the. baconator with smoked malt. It’s a super busy place but just line up a short time and you’ll get in. Staff are friendly and efficient.There’s plenty there for kids too, so the whole family can certainly go. You can drive over the bridge there, catch a bus from Olympic station or catch a cute little tugboat ferry for $4.50 one way or $7.50 return.

Granville Island boat rentals

This was one of the best activities we undertook whist in Vancouver. Rent your own private speed boat to explore the coastline of Vancouver. You don’t need a license, not have driven a boat before. That tag line sucked us in quick. They show you how to use the boat and give the driver a temporary license. You can explore east or west (to the waterfalls – a 4 hour trip) and we picked the west (a 3 hour trip), passing Stanley Park, the lighthouse, Bowen island, fishing and watching the seals. This is a super good activity for a small group. We hired the 17ft-90hp which carries max 5 people and has a stereo. $50 per hour (for 4 hours or more). It’s an extra $10 on weekends. It ends up being quite expensive. We stopped at Bowen Island to explore and even went to a bistro and had a meal. This was superb! What an awesome activity. We loved it.

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Rustique Bistro

This was a great find on Bowen Island – the food was amazing!

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We tried Brussel sprouts, a poke bowl, Cobb salad and a halibut fish as as well as truffle Parmesan fries. The staff were lovely and food came out super fast. They also sell alcohol and coffees. Worth a visit if you’re on this island.

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Gastown

Vancouver grew from this historic location, Vancouver’s oldest town. There is a steam whistle clock and a commercial district with boutiques, restaurants, bars and a interesting array of things to look at. More the boutique style of shop, plenty of homewares stores and expensive art. An easy walk from pretty much anywhere in downtown Vancouver. It’s not exciting but if you’re keen to look around and grab a bite to eat, pop on down.

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Here you’ll find Nemesis Coffee which is probably the best coffee you’ll find in Vancouver. All your regular types, cold brew, filtered and more. They also have a delicious range of pastries and food you can order as well. Another good specialty coffee shop was revolver, where you can do a coffee tasting flight consisting of esspresso and milk based coffee.

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Revolver

Yaletown

Streets of warehouse style buildings full of restaurants, bars and large patios. There’s also boutique stores and salons and worth a look around. Free wi Fi all around the streets too.

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Tap and barrel Brewery

A huge brewery in North Vancouver selling a huge range of beers from across Canada. We tried out a flight and a cider at the brewery. You can pick the beers you want in the flight. We tried the bridge blood orange, beere pale ale (our favourite), brew hall and twin sails IPA’s, and a fat tug. It’s a good way to sample a few beers. We also tried a cocktail and a gin. The food here is also good, we had a few things including the poke bowl and tuna tataki.

Bridal Veil falls

If you’re heading on a drive to Harrison, Bridal Falls is somewhere worth stopping on the way. A beautiful waterfall to admire.A little bit of a trek up so take your hiking boots.

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Harrison

1.5 – 2 hours from North Vancouver pending traffic. It’s a resort destination with hot springs, trail walks, boating and fishing activities. The watersports include an inflatable water park, sea doo rentals, bumper boats, banana tube rides and kayaking. Can be accessed through a day pass 11am-6pm and it has a big water park with inflatable slides etc. We paid our entry, which is $33 each and you get tugged out to the park. It’s good fun, hard work climbing all the equipment.

The hot springs can be visited via the public pool or hot springs resort.

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Squamish

Take a drive about 1 hour towards whistler and pass through this cute little town surrounded by the chief mountains. You can climb three different peaks here, of three different challenging levels. The second peak is for the regular hiker and don’t attempt 1 unless you’re a seasoned climber.

We ate at Zephyr health food cafe and it’s frequented by a hippie crowd. A good range of brekkie and lunch food like salads and soups. hI got a quinoa salad with with chicken and a satay dressing as well as a orange juice. They also sell vegetarian and vegan food. It was a super long wait (long line) but the food was good.

We also got a big burger at Copper Coil called the Chief – with AAA beef, pulled pork smoked in house, smoked gouda, aioli. It was a pretty good burger – massive and super filling. As a side, we got the poutine: skin on fries, traditional gravy, cheese curd. This place has other stuff like crab cakes, chicken wings and popcorn shrimp.

Alice Lake

A large lake where you can swim, hire paddle boards and kayaks. There was plenty of people here for the holidays. There’s also room to camp and bring your RV.

Cat Lake

Not far from Alice Lake but the entrance is less obvious. A lake shaped like a cat but quite large and lots of people swimming. There’s also a rope swing for the lake. You can also camp here (no fires) and there’s lots of signs about bears and protecting your belongings from bears.

Shannon falls

A spot to stop on or from Squamish. There isn’t much parking but if you manage a spot, the parks and bathrooms are nice and it is only a short walk to the falls on a gravel track. A pretty place to visit.

 

Where to go in Vancouver: part 1

Vancouver, Canada is a stunning city, surrounded by  a multitude of mountains and also the Pacific Ocean. The climate is temperate, this making it very easy to be active in summer and spring (and snow activities in winter) but do remember that Vancouver is considered a rainforest, so precipitation should be expected, We were there in late July and luck enough to avoid any rain. The city is very multicultural and thus reflected in cuisines on offer.

As we were in Vancouver for over a week and there’s plenty to do, blog is split in two for readability.

Where to stay

We were lucky enough to have accomodation with our cousin in North Vancouver. We loved this area for its scenery. We would otherwise recommend staying in the city, there’s plenry of hotels, you could also hire a camper van and travel around and we would recommend a night or two at whistler to make the most of the sights to see there.

Where to go

Stanley Park

You simply cannot visit Vancouver without visiting Stanley Park. This large Park with enormous trees of some age and surrounded by the ocean is simply beautiful and is home to a multitude of things to see and do.

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Cycle

We visited in summer and so decided to hire a Shaw mobi bike which comes with a helmet. Rental is $9 for the first 30 minutes and $5 for every 30 minutes after. We cycled the Seawall of the park, which ends up being about 6 k and 13 for us since we kept riding to the other end the city. These are good bikes because you can return them to other docks in other locations rather than to store like those so that hire them there. It is an easy flat ride that will gave you take in ocean views as you ride under the Lions Gate bridge past the pool, beaches, lawn bowls, volleyball court as well as the pitch and putt makes for a scenic cycle.

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Golf

On our last day we decided to have a round of pitch and putt. The holes are all less than 100 meters, so you don’t have to be a big hitter. A round of 18 holes including, clubs, balls and tees set us back $26 each. This activity is fun for everyone, it will have you enjoy the park in a different way and is a great way to be outdoors and active.

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Walk

There are many different walking tracks within Stanley park. Walk the perimeter with ocean views or walk through the centre and be mystified by giant trees, there are also many pretty gardens throughout, duck ponds and first nation artworks including totems.

Prospect Point viewpoint

Great view of the harbour and north Vancouver, it’s right in the middle at the tip of the park so hard to get to unless you’re on the hop on/hop off bus or drive. Or if you’re biking or walking around. We walked about 30 Mins to get out.

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Prospect Point cafe

Prospect point will provide you with some lovely views. The cafe is set right at the tip of Prospect Point and takes advantage of these views. It has a cafe at the front and a bar and grill inside. We sat out on the deck with a beautiful view of the harbour. The staff were lovely and helpful. The food being prepared was a little slow but we didn’t care too much since it was a lovely view. We got a cold seafood platter to share, and it was beautifully presented with cleaned crab claws, marinated tuna ceviche (or sashimi really), poached prawns, clams and mussels and smoked salmon. For $49 this is extremely good value. You can also get salads, burgers and more. They also have half sized meals for those of you not so hungry. They sell beers, soft drinks and coffees so it’s suitable for any crowd.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Located in North Vancouver BC, about 3 in from downtown. You can easily get a bus or a free shuttle from Canada Place. the Capilano Suspension Bridge is part of a bigger park with the famous 450 foot bridge, a cliff walk, rainforest canopy, sweeping views, lookouts, water falls and more. It’s quite pricy but probably because it’s a tourist haunt. But if you want to see it, you’ll pay. Whilst you’re there there’s interesting displays of the history, native history and totem poles, guided tours, and also a coffee shop, restaurant and grill. The set up has been done really well and it’s a lovely spot.

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Whistler Blackcomb

If you are after mountains and suspension bridges, Whistler is a nice 2hr drive or Bus ride away. The bus is $35 return from Downtown Vancouver to Whistler with Epic bus tours and lift passes are $60. Definitely better value than the Grouse Capilano combo. The glass floor gondola from peak to peak was very cool as was the suspension bridge “on top of the world” and will give you a slight adrenaline hit. If you are afraid of heights, you will need to conquer your fears. The views are spectacular and well worth seeing.

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We wish we knew more about Whistler in the summer as it is sublime. We would have stayed a few nights as you can get good deals in summer. There’s plenty to do and see and next time we’ll do the bobsled!

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Keep out for part 2 coming soon….

Where to get a middle eastern feast in Brighton Le Sands @ Republiq Shisha Bar and Grill

Brighton Le Sands has been well renowned for its Mediterranean cuisine in Sydney for decades. Now there’s a newcomer on the scene that is setting a new benchmark for traditional dishes with a contemporary twist. Republiq Shisha Bar and Grill at the beach-side promenade is definitely one to schedule into your eating calendar.

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Republiq Shisha Bar and Grill entices you from the boardwalk with its lavish, colourful Turkish mosaic tiles and matching outdoor decor.

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A black foyer and bright white marble serving bars contrast elegantly with the playfulness of the tiles, while subtle lighting at dusk did not detract from a perfect view of Botany Bay.

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The custom made fish tank drew our attention immediately and became a talking point throughout dinner with part-owner Danny Monsour. The attentiveness and knowledge of the wait staff was oustanding.

We were definitely in for a treat this evening as head chef Bektas Ozean delivered a superb selection of their most popular dishes. The menu hails from our favourite Mediterranean regions: Greece, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain and Turkey.

A trio of starters included traditional warm flat bread with seeded olive oil, taramasalata with salmon roe and crispy bread and house-made labne. The taramasalata was among the freshest we have eaten and the labne delivered a perfect combination of creamy yoghurt and char-grilled vegetables and a light dusting of cracked wheat. These were delicious and all complemented each other perfectly.

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For the entree, we were delighted to savour the Turkish grilled octopus and new chef specialty, spiced lamb sausage and hommus. Many restaurants serve octopus however few get it right. Thankfully, Republiq know what they are doing. This was one of our favourite dishes and was tender, flame grilled to perfection and sat on a mildly spiced vegetable and herb based sauce.

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The in-house lamb sausage with hommous, pickled radish and pistachio was nicely balanced and we found out later that like a lot of things from Republiq, are custom made to order by the restaurants’ butcher to a traditional Turkish recipe.

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The Turkish borek was a deliciously light, spinach and feta-filled flaky pastry served with a crisp salad of greens and olives. This would be a perfect table-sharing main dish as the serving was more than generous.

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The time-honoured lamb kebab is a signature Republiq dish and now we know why. The perfectly cooked lamb backstrap was encased in pistachio and air-light pastry. We savoured the bhaba ghanoush with the sweetness of pomegranate and the tart refreshment of globe artichoke. Burnt butter was drizzled over the whole plate to bring out the flavours of the micro herbs and spices. This is one must-have dish!

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For dessert we tried the knefe with mascarpone, honey and pistachios. The subtle sweetness of the sugar syrup enveloped the pastry and the plate was beautifully dusted with flowers. This is a desert that would please everyone. It is not too sweet and the distinct cheese and honey flavours were well matched.

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The 220 seated restaurant offers al fresco seating on the promenade and a shisha bar upstairs with capacity for a wide-variety of functions. You will feel equally at home on a romantic dinner, family catchup or party with friends. With impeccable service, generous portions and a fabulous view, definitely book ahead for Republiq Bar and Grill.

Republiq Shisha Bar and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to go in Todos Santos, Mexico

Todos Santos is a small boutique town, about 45 Mins – 1 hour via the highway from Los Cabos or an 1 hour and 30 minutes from the airport. For budding artists, honeymooners or those keen for a surf nearby, the area could be described as quaint, artistic, eclectic and cruisy.

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The properties are painted with interesting colours and mosaics, streets are cobblestone and there are plenty of boutique shops selling ceramics, jewellery, hammocks and Mexican inspired Knick knacks.

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Be sure to reach a rooftop by at least 8pm for a beautiful and amazing sunset. We felt safe in this area and shops weren’t pushy at all – and you can bargain. We recommend taking enough USD or peso because we didn’t really see any ATMs. You can get by with limited or no Spanish. 

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It is best if you hire a car to get to Todos and to explore the surrounding areas. We recommend booking online before you arrive and choose a reputable company to avoid any issues, many of the car hire companies will pick you up from the airport. We are from Australia and usually drive on the opposite side of the road and we didn’t have any problems. Todos Dos Santo is quite easy to get to you take the toll road which costs roughly $3USD, be sure to have small pesos. There is minimal traffic to worry about, just keep an eye out for goats, horses and other livestock crossing the road. 

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Todos Dos Santos is famous for the Hotel California and although it has nothing to do with the famous Eagles song, it is a very popular tourist attraction, with it’s own marketplace, restaurant and bar to cash in on its popularity. It’s certainly an interesting story to read about its history. If you visit during during the right months, you can see turtles hatching nearby and it is also possible to swim with the whale sharks in La Paz. Unfortunately we visited at the wrong time of year. 

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Where to stay 

We stayed in Todos Santos which is great because you’re near the shops and restaurants, however if you’re a surfer, you may be better to stay at Cerritos Beach. The hotels there are beachside, with great pools. With limited eating options, you’d be restrained to the hotel. Toss up what suits, but a car would help with either choice. 

Guyacura Boutique Hotel 

A quaint little boutique hotel with well appointed rooms. Large beds, a desk and cupboard with a safe. The shower is huge, almost outrageously so. They provide products for loccataine, a hairdryer and bottle of water daily. There’s also a tv but no other appliances.

We didn’t use the restaurant or bakery but we went to the rooftop bar. An awesome bar tender there, he has great English and a super entertaining personality and he really made the bar a great place. Limited food on the menu at the bar but we had some good tacos. 

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Where to visit

El Faro Beach club

This is connected to Guyacura Boutique Hotel but a 5 minute drive away. As a guest, your entrance is free. It’s basically a beach club where you can swim, drink, eat and purchase a spa experience. It’s a lovely place, although not that necessary to visit since the hotel has a pool, though would be great with a big group of friends. The spa treatments were quite expensive (like approx $220 USD) for an hour. Staff here speak excellent English. 

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Cerritos Beach

About a 10 minute drive from Todos Santos and worth travelling to if you’re keen to surf. For free parking, go to The Cerritos Surf Resort it is in a great spot right on the beach and we’d probably stay here if we visited again. We used their facilities, beach chairs and had a drink whilst watching the surf. 

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You can easily rent a surf board on the beach, or have a massage there so it’s quite a relaxing place. If you want to hire a surfboard or want a surfing lesson see Tona, he is located on the beach in front of The Cerritos Surf Resort.

Hacienda is a Boutique resort at the beach’s point with an amazing view. It’s catered to a sophisticated older crowd and we loved the styling here. It’s also recently opened to the public for meals in their restaurant La Mision and we had a lovely breakfast meal there.

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Where to eat

El Pastorcito

 No frills, plastic seats and tables. Food comes out on plastic plates covered in plastic sandwich bags (to save them washing I presume). You order in Spanish as the staff know no English. We have limited Spanish but managed. The meat cooked on the chargrill and the tacos come out (order corn or wheat) and then you add your toppings. It’s super delicious and really good value. 

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La Casita Wine Bar

Restaurant at the end of town serving salad, meat dishes, pastas and some good quality sashimi and sushi. We really enjoyed the tuna sashimi as well as the shrimp hand rolls. They give you a basket of bread and basil oil complimentary as well. 

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Restaurante Cafelix 

We frequented here for breakfast; think granola and yoghurt, French toast, pancakes or scrambled eggs, which come with tortillas, potatoes and refried beans. They serve good coffee, complete with quality latte art, as well as cold drinks and tea. The staff here were lovely too. It isn’t expensive, we spent about $20-$25 on two breakfasts and two coffees.

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Restaurant Mi Pueblito

We ate here on our first night and had some pretty good margaritas, tostada and salsa, fajitas and chimichanga. Lovely staff and a good atmosphere. Traditional Mexican fare here. 

Todos Santos Brewery 

Run by an Aussie couple who visited the area and loved it so much they stayed. They saw the market for pub style food and boutique craft beers. You can order burgers, fried food and Mexican food. We got the ceviche – a huge bowl of seasoned seafood with tostada. At $150 Mexican Pesos, it was good value for the size. Plenty of beers to choose from. Entertainment wise, there was trivia on a Friday and a band on a Sunday and you can also amuse yourself with the board games they have.

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If you do visit, we hope you have a wonderfult time, and please feel welcome to ask any questions of us.

 

Where to experience the integrity of rustic Italian in Western Sydney @ Enzo’s Cucina

For Italians, food isn’t just nourishment, it is life! It’s the most searched cuisine on Google here in Sydney and the most requested and imitated food around the world. In spite of divergence in cooking styles and interpretations from region to region, there is a deep unifying connection Italians have with what they eat. From the extensive knowledge of ingredients used, to the meticulous planning in preparation, at Enzo’s, it’s the connection to his family every diner gets with every meal that is served to your table.

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Setting the tone for the evening is an elaborate platter featuring tasters from the entire starter’s selection. It’s a sample of many of the hero dishes stripped down, but so compelling they stand out on their own. The Calamari Fritti, the arancini, BBQ octopus, pork belly, garlic prawns, and halloumi all have their own prescribed accompaniments when served at full portion. From aioli and lemon, red wine jus, napolitana sauce, lemon dressing, local honey and rocket, somehow this special assembly becomes a dish of its own while spectacularly representing the introductory section of the menu.

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Family gatherings are frequent in Italy, often centred around food and the extended networks of families. It’s the only way to experience a 5 course showcase like this one, and on this occasion, our host Food Blogger Australia has assembled 40 of the most passionate food lovers together in one monumental celebration to experience the true essence behind this cuisine’s culture.

An invitation to Enzo Cucina’s table, is an invitation to his family’s table. The items selected in the evening’s menu honoring the integrity inherent in authentic food values of Italian culture.

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POLPETTE AL POMODORO is a menu staple first served at the original store in Chipping Norton and has continued to delight for the past 8 years. These Italian meatballs are cooked in Napolitana sauce with parmesan cheese that’s been grilled into the shape and texture of wafers that break at the slightest touch. It’s Enzo’s mother’s recipe, many of which are at the heart of the menu.

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GNOCCHI BEEF CHEEK are matched perfectly. The soft pillowy textures of the Potato dumplings pan tossed with slow cooked beef cheek providing the perfect vehicle for their home made Napolitana sauce. The gnocchi used in all dishes at Enzo’s is made fresh on site by Enzo’s nephews.

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It’s all about beautiful simplicity in Italian cuisine and the LINGUINE AL GAMBERETTI uses a simple dressing of virgin olive oil, chilli, garlic and parsley allowing the contrasting raw flavors of bacon and prawn to dominate.

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This is also seen in their MARGHERITA pizza of Tomato, mozzarella with oregano and their proscuitto, rocket and parmesan pizza.

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The RISOTTO PESCATORE of Octopus, mussels, calamari, prawns, vongole in a fresh Napolitana sauce is the star attraction. This is a recipe Enzo’s father use to cook up for the family. As we’re served this dramatic dish with crab claws climbing out of the plate, a sense of closeness and warmth layers our experience as the portrait of this man’s recipe watches over us on the feature wall. It’s a beautifully presented dish, sculpturesque in form, the rich broth absorbed into the rice with hues of sweetness from the crustaceans that jewel this dish.

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Enzo’s sister crafts the desserts and there are 12 to choose from. It was a symphony of ‘oooooo’s and ‘aaaaahhhhh’s as the end note to a great meal came out. Each plate buildng on the next. The silky wobble of the panna cotta, the lacy encasement of crepe both feature nutella – an impossible choice!

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The spongy pudding of caramel and finely chopped dates and the puff pastry seeds filled with ricotta, masacarpone, goats cheese, sultanas, fried and served with pistachio crumbs, vanilla gelato, honey castor and sugar!

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The secret to maintaining consistency and their personal connection to diners across all locations in Kemps Creek, Chipping Norton, Casula, Glen Alpine and Northmead is the consistency across the board in their core dishes. Every meatball made by mama, every gnocchi dish made by his nephews, the tribute in the way Enzo’s father’s seafood risotto is made to the desserts his sister makes is genuinely one big family affair.

In reaching this level of perfection, very little change has been needed to their menu since the opening of its flagship in Chipping Norton. Very few can boast such a unique proposition propelling this chain of restaurants into one of the destinations for rustic Italian in the Western Sydney dining scene.

Joseph Lloyd, Contributor
Photo Credit: @sydneyfoodfreak_

Enzo's Cucina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to experience world class harbour dining this Winter

The best things come in threes. Like it’s namesake, The Ternary, derived from the latin word, “ternarius” – constitutes three elements; bar, wok and grill with three dishes on this Winter Warmers menu.

Located in the Novotel, Darling Harbour, the soft hues of flamingo pink reel you in as you ascend into the space, the warmth of the fireplace provides sanctuary from the winter cold as its flames and embers whisper distinctly through the bustling main dining area.  

The walk to our table takes us through the ‘ternarius’ core, heading past the award winning bar, Asian kitchen and tandoor and finally passing the sizzling grill. 

We’re reminded of our fondness of this venue with its world class rationale of creation, with the panoramic backdrop of Darling Harbour.

6A721926-EB09-4DD1-B6A5-79DE2C6E81A6Pan seared scallops with thai sauce and hot smoked salmon served on betel leaf and nam jim sauce are beautiful bite sized bursts of flavor comes as one of the common canapés on their functions menu. It was an outstanding prelude to the showcase of new items.

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A selection of locally sourced and imported cheeses are accompanied with a bottle of McWilliam’s Shiraz Wine in the ultimate Winter board.  Taking sanctuary in the lounge area, the slow paced grazing excites with a complexity of flavors from the different stages of cheese maturation that’s been assembled.

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After several visits to The Ternary over the years, there’s one thing we know.  When they make a dish, it’s made with intention and truth.  This winter you will find that attribute in their Penang Prawn curry.   A multi-layered assault of pungency in salt, fish sauce, thick creamy coconut and peanut sweetness with eye watering fire the dish in its original form was designed yet beautiful streaming through the sauce in perfect waves.

923B9C83-E55F-43CB-80C6-E4FD7E5F6A6CThe pièce de résistance and only luxurious roast fitting for this 4.5 star rated hotel establishment is Wagyu. It’s exquisitely tender texture and luxurious taste can be accompanied with a choice of sauces including: shallot red wine, green peppercorn, mushroom, truffle mustard butter or garlic herb butter.  Resting on a bed of potatoes and spinach, this dish is recommended with a pint of Furphy Ale.

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Easy access to the venue up the escalators, it is a destination not only for visitors to the city but also for nearby locals and workers ready to embraces the best version of dishes of classic favorites. 

Their Winter Warmer menu is available until the end of August.  Ranging in price from just $35-$49 including a glass or pint of alcohol, it’s a very reasonable night out for a world class harbour dining experience.

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Joseph Lloyd, Contributor
Photo Credits: @sydneyfoodfreak_  Ben, @pixbyash

The Ternary Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to go in Saskatchewan

Accomodation 

We were here to visit relatives so had somewhere to stay, but in Regina there’s plenty of chain hotels where you can stay. 

Regina town  

It’s not a huge city but you can head into town to explore. Find the “I love Regina” sign for some photos and stroll through the park or around the lake.

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You can find some farmers markets on a Sunday in town and a shopping Mall. We also found a good coffee shop called 33 1/3 coffee roasters.

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 It is a shared space for a coffee shop and a brewery called Malty National, love the name. It’s 90’s cool, be sure to bring about some nostalgia for Gen X and plenty of fun for all. There is outdoor/patio seating and plenty of room inside.

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With free arcade games including street fighter, there are also some old school board games like operation and hungry hungry hippos which makes it fun for everyone.

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33 1/3 have good specialy coffee, including filtered and milk based coffee.

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A great spot to get your caffeine fix. Malty National brewery have their brewing equipment on site, fully visible so you can also geek out on that if you are a beer nerd. A beer tasting flight will set you back a measly $5 and is good value to sample some interesting beer.

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 Regina Beach 

It’s not a proper beach as such, but it is a beach beside a lake. It’s a resort town where you will find plenty of people swimming, out on their boats, paddle boarding, jet skiing and more. 

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There’s places to rent equipment and also a local bar, club and a few little stores including an ice cream shop and a Mexican restaurant.

Moose Jaw 

A surprisingly unexpected place to have a good day out. It is your classic historic town which is still living those historic days out.

Moose Jaw tunnels  

This is a tourist attraction where guests buy a $15 ticket and get taken on a 50 minute tour through the recreated tunnels of Moose Jaw to teach us about the 1920’s – 1930’s days of Al Capone and the underground bootlegging era during prohibition days. It’s quite theatrical with the guides as ‘actors’ and is an interesting place to visit and learn something at the same time. 

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Mac the Moose 

 Located at the visitor centre, you must visit the giant moose (32 ft tall) for a photo!

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Temple Gardens 

In central Moose Jaw, the Temple Gardens Hotel and Spa is a huge hotel where you can stay. It has conference rooms, a spa and also the famous geothermal mineral water pool (largest in Canada). We didn’t stay at the hotel, but paid a $17 entry to use. The spa is about 32 degrees and is good for relaxation and to help soothe aching muscles and sore joints. We enjoyed our visit here and you can stay as long as you like. 

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Casino Moose Jaw

Located opposite the temple gardens hotel and spa, you can visit the casino to use the slot machines, play the table or poker. There’s dining and entertainment there too. 

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Jade Garden restaurant

A Chinese restaurant located on the Main Street in Moose Jaw. It is super cheap – $15.95 for a buffet. The buffet has mostly noodles and fried food, as well as desserts. You can also get banquets and we got one for $99.95 for 8 people which is a bargain. They were super helpful in accomodating gluten free needs. They have beers and cocktails too, although the cocktails aren’t on point. 

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Yvette Moore Gallery 

We really liked visiting the Yvette Moore Gallery as it has beautiful art, ceramics and jewellery on display. A lovely place to look around. They also have a cafe inside with friendly staff and comforting food. It is super healthy, homely and fresh. We had the salad – with candied pecans, carrot, apple, feta and Canadian maple dressing and also added chicken. It came with a bowl of soup – a beautiful beef and barley soup, as well an awesome cheddar herb biscuit. There’s a range of sweets too like bread and butter pudding or Saskatoon pie to finish off your meal. We also enjoyed a latte and a Saskatoon Berry Iced tea for our drinks. You can tell they take care in making their food. We loved our lunch here. Be sure to book if you’re going to visit.

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Shopping 

There are some cool Thrift shops where you can grab a bargain. Rings and Things specialises in jewellery but also has some other interesting knickknacks and home decor items. There are a few sports stores with some well priced merchandise.

Regina is a small place and everything we went to is within a one hour drive. If you’re here to visit relatives, like us, then this will keep you amused for your stay.