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Harvest Land & Harvest Haus

After missing last year, “Harvest Haus” is back in a big way, and at a larger venue. From October 10-20th celebrate Oktoberfest with “The Social Concierge” and “Playland”. This year they have made the occasion a family affair, with two features: “Harvest Land” and “Harvest Haus”. The latter is a drink hall for adults; the former a German themed farm festival, with numerous attractions for young and old. I visited opening night and partook in both for the review below.

“Harvest Land” is open at 4pm. Kid friendly, there is plenty to keep them occupied. With a map and well labelled areas, it is fun to explore the expanse of the outdoor fair ground. But be warned, majority of the attractions do require a fee to play.

“Woodland Den” has axe throwing. You pay for throws and get a crash course before you start. A flick of the wrist to make the axe spin and stick, it is harder than it looks. Here, you can also try your hand at log sawing, or simply watch it being done below.

I enjoyed the comedy of the lumberjacks performing in the “logger area”. A show in the use of a chainsaw and the two man hand saw. Two professional teams competed and hilariousness ensued.

I was most excited about the “woodland labyrinth”, so was disappointed by it the most. What looked like hedges to weave through on the map, was actually a series of fencing arranged like a maze. A few panels were decorated, many more left plain. You simply walked along the path, ending up where you started from. Near the exit was a feature that felt undone. As a whole, this exhibit felt rushed. I wish the show runners created pausing points and photo ops within the labyrinth. Or had projectors strobing light and casting patterns for more visual interest. Day or night it is the same with varying amounts of light.

The “Kinder Farm” zone cleverly used exhibits and props from PNE’s agrodome. Tractors, plastic farm animals, and the petting zoo. Lambs, goats, rabbits, chicks, and a donkey made an appearance here.

There were also pony rides from some of the most fashionable horses around. With their manes dyed and their harnesses bedazzled they were like pageant contestants.

 

There was even a pumpkin patch to take photos in. Not the ones on farms where you can pick your own from the patch. But many individual pumpkins assembled on the grass to simulate the experience, without any of the mud associated.

I especially liked the giant pumpkins in planters, still on stem. And the shelf stocked with pumpkins and gourds of various sizes and colours.

Here, you could also purchase pumpkin and cabbages for throwing and slicing. Baby porcelain pumpkins were armed into sling shot holsters; you fired them in a contained hay and grass field. For kids under 12 it was free, parents paid. And no, you don’t get to keep the pumpkin afterwards.

As for the cabbage, at $5 a head, you took each to the “Bavarian Village”, where you could live out your fruit ninja dreams. Wielding a real metal sword, you could stab, slice, or chop your cabbage head down to size. But you aren’t able to keep the salad afterwards.

If you don’t feel comfortable swinging a sword, you can watch the professionals handle theirs with sword play demonstrations, or get more comfortable with one through “knight camp training” in the “Marketplatz”.

And if swords aren’t your weapon of choice, there is also archery lessons and the opportunity to pull an arrow at a target.

Looking for more fun and games, then take part in classic fair games for prizes. Like ring toss and gone fishing.

All the above is located outdoors, so if and when it rains you can retreat into the “Marketplatz” to keep dry. Here you can ride on a merry-go-round or mini coaster. Or run around in their fun house. There are also vendors selling handmade wares to shop.

And for those needing an outfit for “Harvest Haus”, traditional lederhosen and dirndls are available for sale, as well as felt hats and steins. All of which are highly recommended when partying it up in the beer hall, which opens to ticket holders (separate from Harvest Land) at 6pm.

All “Harvest Haus” guests are required to rent and drink out of one of their branded steins for $3, plus a $5 deposit you get back when the stein is returned. If you spring for the VIP ticket, your admission includes the cost of the stein rental, and access to the raised Bavarian-themed long table VIP seating area, with its own VIP bar. This area guarantees you a seat in front of the band and the live performers.

Acrobats, jugglers, fire twirlers, and unicycle performers roamed the beer hall and fair grounds engaging in guests and posing for photos.

For those who are planning to stay for the evening’s festivities, I suggest eating before. Fuel up when exploring “Harvest Land”, as only salted and sweet pretzels are available within “Harvest Haus”. Majority of the food trucks and food stands are open and operating outdoors. You can bring said food in to “Harvest Haus”, but will need to check your stein in when leaving, and line up to get back in. And that is a missed opportunity, had their been food available indoors we probably would have spent more and stayed longer.

Food vendors included PNE staples like the grilled cheese stand, the one that specializes in chicken and waffles, and flavoured mini doughnuts. For the Oktoberfest theme there were plenty of German meat options available like pork hocs, bratwurst and sauerkraut, porchetta sandwiches, and pulled pork buns for various food trucks.

As for “Harvest Haus” itself, the event gives you the ability to drink and engage with other German and European beer-loving folk. All while partaking in drinking chants, and regale in the music of an oompah band: the official Harvest Haus sound of the Halle; as well as DJ Meike Zeddam, der mann über die stadt. The event runs every night until the 20th, with special seatings on certain days. So for more on that and to learn how to get your tickets for the largest fall themed celebration and Oktoberfest party, visit the link below.

Opening Night: Thur, Oct 10, 4pm – 10pm
Friday Night: Fri, Oct 11, 4pm – 10pm
Thanksgiving Weekend: Sat, Oct 12— Mon, Oct 14, 12pm – 10pm
Weeknights: Wed, Oct 16 — Fri, Oct 18, 4pm – 10pm
Closing Weekend: Sat, Oct 19 — Sun, Oct 20, 12pm – 10pm

HARVEST HAUS
Hastings Park – Home of the PNE Fair
2901 E Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V5K 5J1

Twilight Drive-In with the Honda CR-V

I have never been to a drive-in movie theatre before, so what better a time than during the last bit of dry season, to check out the “Twilight Drive-In” in Aldergrove. Although, regardless of weather, all movies scheduled for the day will still play: rain, shine, sleet, or snow.

Our vehicle of choice: to get us there and to sit and enjoy the movie in was the “2019 Honda CR-V”. With its best in class fuel economy, even though the drive was far, our wallets didn’t suffer too much. Which meant more money spent on movie-viewing snacks.

Your choice in movies are posted online, a few days before the start of the week. Originally we were planning on visiting during a Tuesday, when general admission is only $10, and you save $3.50 per person. But for fall, they are only open from Friday to Sunday. And this week it was a marathon of clowns. Either the new “Joker” movie at 7:30pm or “IT 2” at 9:40pm. But you needn’t choose, because admission allows you to watch both movies. It is worth noting that they only accept cash or debit at the box office, and cash at the concession. Although there is an ATM on location, so should you need it.

The box office opens 45minutes before the start of the movie. Ushers with reflective jackets and flashlights help guide your way. Each vehicle is given a plastic garbage bag, and encouraged to use it instead of littering. It is first come first serve, and you park where ever you want. We drove to the very front as to not have the view of any other cars in our foreground. Individual spaces are marked with a white pole, well aligned to ensure that each vehicle has plenty of room between one another. The overall ground is flat, but each “stall” has a little mound of dirt that you can use to perch your vehicle atop of.

Many of the SUVs present, reversed into their stall. With an opened tailgate, passengers bundled up to watch the movie, cozy with pillows and blankets surrounding them. Had we known this before arriving, we would have dressed warmer and done the same. After all our “Honda CR-V” came with plenty of cargo room, and two-level flat luggage compartment. A “full flat mode” and a “capacity max mode”, both designed to fit your storage needs, or in this case two grown adults.

For audio you need to tune into a specific FM station, within your car. Meaning you can set the volume to how loud you like it. I enjoyed being able to talk over the movie, to engage with my guest, snack loudly on our food, rustle with careless abandon when I wanted some candy, and turn on the light if we dropped anything. And not encouraged, but possible, is playing with your phone during the movie as well.

To access the audio it is recommended that you turn your key to the “Accessory” position, to consume as little power as possible. You also leave your headlights and brake lights off during the movie (as to not distract from other’s experience). Cars with daytime running lights usually can be turned off by applying the emergency brake.

For food, you get out of the car to purchase what ever you like from their indoor concession stand. This is also where the washrooms are. There are only 2 tills, and the clerk that takes your order is also the one that assembles it. Everything minus the burgers and fried food, which comes from the kitchen. So be warned and come early, as there is a wait to get in, let alone order. I didn’t mind the extra time, to look over the lengthy menu. I was delighted that they offer a lot more than most normal movie theatres do. Fountain drinks in plenty of flavours, bottled drinks, energy drinks, ice coffees, and hot beverages. If you are looking for something more substantial they have plenty of sweet snacks to munch on: a variety of chocolates, gummies, and candies; ice cream bars, and even sno cones. For savoury there was the classic buttered popcorn, corn dogs, burgers, hot dogs, fries, poutine, onion rings; and nachos.

We feasted in the comfort of our Honda CR-V cabin. Where we were able to sprawl everything across the central console. Convenient, as we stayed in the front seat for the duration movie, lowering our perforated leather seats back for the perfect recline. The only hiccup, not being able to run our vehicle fully meant no heated seats or rain sensing wipers. So with the gentle rain coming down, there was the need to turn on the car in order to clear the wind shield of moisture now and again. Had we watched from the tailgate, the above wouldn’t have been an issue.

As for the aforementioned food, the following is all that we shared and it was all better than we expected. The “Nachos supreme” came with some assembly required. A sealed bag of corn chips that you pour out into a cardboard box and top with sliced jalapeño. All to enjoy with a dip into hot nacho cheese and/or a scoop of juicy tomato salsa.

The large order of popcorn came with multiple pumps of butter. A couple mid way through, and more, once filled. The ideal snack for any movie goer.

The onion rings had a good crispiness to them, but I wanted more crunchy batter and less gummy onion.

I liked the use of actual cheese curds in the poutine, but not so much the gravy. It was flat and I could have used some more pepperiness to it.

The chicken bites came with your choice of sauce. We went for the honey garlic, which was two sauces combined in one dish. They did what I wanted, adding some salty and sweet to these breaded nuggets of white meat.

The hot dog was exactly as expected. A regular wiener in a plain bun, which you dress as you like at the condiment bar.

I was surprised by how much I liked the “Double burger”, I added cheese to this stack of burger patties, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickles. It just needed more ketchup for my taste.

And for dessert, our favourite candy to leave our meal on a sweet note. I thought about ice cream or a sno cone, but didn’t want to visit the concession stand mid movie or in the little time you have between movies.

Between the double feature there is an intermission, a video plays inviting your to visit the concession stand. It is basically food coming to life in games and dance. Gum and liquorice jumping rope, a popsicle leading cups of ice cream in a march, and a bag of popcorn juggling its fillings. And when the hot dog wiener takes the stage and eventually lands in the bun, everyone honks their car horn. The honk serves no other purpose, besides you acknowledging that you have been to the drive-in before and know of this ritual.

As for the movie, I don’t review cinema; although as a longtime Batman comics fan, I can say that this Joker’s origin story holds up and satisfies. And as for “IT 2” I am a notorious scaredy cat, so couldn’t stomach most of it without closing my eyes tight and plugging my ears with my finger tips.

Overall, I highly recommend this experience. This was a great way to enjoy a newly released movie, in the comfort of a car, with surprisingly tasty food to boot. And done even better if your vehicle of choice is the 2019 Honda CR-V.

HONDA
#HondaCRV
https://www.honda.ca/

TWILIGHT DRIVE-IN
3350 260 St, Aldergrove, BC V4W 2B1
(604) 856-5063
twilightdrivein.net

Privé Kitchen + Bar

Once “Privé night club” in downtown Vancouver, now rebranded as an entertainment metropolis on West Broadway. This highly anticipate kaorake bar, restaurant, and entertainment centre is opening this Sunday, September 1st; and I was one of a handful that got to experience this megaplex, a few days before.

The space is massive, previously home to “Red Robins” it now hosts 10 karaoke rooms, a 2,000 square foot patio, a common area with a giant tv screen; and plenty of tables and chairs that can be removed to covert the space into a dance floor. For those who don’t dance they have giant Jenga for you to stack, a high tech beer pong table that includes its own app, a regular ping pong table, and an exercise bike.

But the latter wasn’t just any ordinary exercise bike, this bike blended as you pedalled. The result, a few calories burned and a new frozen slush in hand. It lives in the lounge, and is available to prospective riders. Though with the need for personel to help mix the drink before you bike, I suspect it is only available for riding on busier nights.

A similar case would probably be for the beer pong table. To play you need to download the app, struggle to get their password and connect to wifi, take a photo of a barcode, input your settings, then find balls and clean liquid cups to play with. But when they have reps in to show you what’s what, and how to play the game, it is a lot of fun. A more theatrical version of the popular drinking game, with flashing lights and the tallying of points.

Currently “Privé” is only licensed as a restaurant, and are working on acquiring their liqueur license. But once they do, they can bring in a DJ booth and arcade games to round out their late night offerings. Although their bar is already well stocked with premium liqueurs, sparkling wine, and Hennessy on display.

However, for this launch party, we were able to try a few would-be cocktails. Including a spiked ice tea and a lightly spiced caesar.

There was also a welcome citrus punch and a clear gin and cucumber cocktail, along with a couple of fruit infused mocktails.

With the drinks, there were plenty of foods to graze on; including fruit platters, meat and cheese boards, and a spread of veggies and dip. Basically their entire food menu was put out on display for trying. The following is what I got to, before it was picked over, potluck style. And unfortunately I didn’t try everything, so can’t review it for you here.

It was hard to share a burger over 20 ways, keeping everyone else invited in mind. I tried the fried chicken one with crunchy breaded chicken breast and creamy, crisp slaw. There was also a bacon cheese burger and two other beef options.

I didn’t like the idea of raw oysters at a night club or bar. But it was promised to be of quality, and it did fit into their luxury experience.

Similarly, there was raw beef carpaccio. This apparently I had no problem trying.

I didn’t mind their seafood cooked in soup or fried over fries. Fish and chips. The clam chowder was easy to sample with a scoop of soup on to your plate, and used as a sauce to dip your bread into.

They also had salads like one with golden beets and another with quinoa.

But the most popular, and the best dishes were all the familiar pub classics. The nachos with guacamole and salsa over chips and/or tater tots, were super tasty.

And I liked their fully loaded chilli cheese fries with hot cheetos.

If you get the chance to enjoy any of the above, I suggest doing so on their patio. A luxurious setting with wicker and cushion. Couches to sprawl on, and city views to look out at.

But of course the main event, and the reason to visit is their karaoke rooms. 9 rooms, each marked with its own song lyric.

Pop one liners like, “hit me baby one more time”, “I don’t wanna miss a thing”, “as long as you love me”, and “it was all a dream”.

Memorable rap versus like “She said she don’t believe in God, but her shoes Christian”, “money on my mind, all I $ee i$ dollar $ign$”, and “more money more problems”.

These are what made the rooms and “Privé karaoke bar” memorable. The fun of choosing your room based on its lyric and your mood, not to mention all the photographic possibilities.

The largest room is able to host a party of 20, under the neon lights: “feed me, feel me, fuck me, Vancouver special”. It and all the larger rooms have their own in suite washroom.

Like our “I love bad bitches, that’s my fucking problem” room. We found the quote empowering, making it our own, and paying homage to it by singing rap songs by powerful women.

Each room is equipped with 2 microphones. They are easy to turn on with a button on its handle, and a rubber grip to keep it from slipping. You make your song selection on the touch screen by the television. It functioned like a giant iPad. It was easy to use; easy to search songs by genre, title, or artist. There plenty of new releases with actual music videos to scroll through. And even more international singles from around the world to discover.

My girl friend and I aren’t big singers, let along karaoke enthusiast, so we were both surprised by how much fun we had. With the function that allows you to sing along with the actual singer, our cracking voices were masked. We found ourselves excited to finish our song choice and look for another.

We sang for 2 hours straight. With the toilet a few feet away and a phone to call the staff with, you needn’t leave the comfort of these spacious and stylish room. Eating and drinking are highly encouraged here. They have buckets for bottles and a specialty tray for shots. If you need anything, you pick up the phone and it’s yours.

Although, I do still suggest visiting the regular washrooms. The men’s and women’s had their own neon lights. More photographic and memorable quotes to capture.

And if you come before the sun sets, make sure you linger long enough to see the sky grow dark, and their space light up.

In short, I love the space and had a blast. I will be coming back with friends, and can safely recommend “Privé” as a great place to party at. You get the night club aesthetic and energy, retooled for a more causal evening. Although, they definitely kept the staff and their dress code, like that of a club.

PRIVE
1001 West Broadway Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 4E4
privevancouver.com

Playland Nights 2019, Neon Party

Tonight I was at the opening of “Playland Nights”, a series of Fridays in July that is 19+, running from 7pm to midnight.

All early bird tickets have already sold out at $29, but regular tickets are still available online and at the box office the night of, at $34 per person. Your admission includes unlimited access to over 20 rides and attractions. Like Playland’s most historic ride, the “Wooden Roller Coaster,” rated the #1 wooden coaster in all of Canada. As well as “The Beast”, “Crazy Beach Party”; and the “Hellevator”, with its 200-foot free fall.

For those like me, who likes an attraction that doesn’t scare you, there are more gentler rides like the merry-go-round, balloon ride, swing, and bumper cars to go on.

And I personally won’t miss a spin on the Ferris wheel ride for its great vantage point alone.

But for those who don’t like motion and momentum there are shows and performances that you can engage in, instead. Like the roaming “Underground Circus”, a group of acrobats balancing, juggling, and preforming defying tricks to blow you away.

On the main stage, the variety show entertainment begins at 8pm, starting with the “Drum N Dirty”, a live percussions DJ. This is followed by “Samba Fusion” at 9pm, and “Wes Barker”, stunt magician at 10pm. The night ends with “Dancing Teasing Fabulousness”, a Vancouver based burlesque show. We sadly never caught up to the circus, but did catch “Samba Fusion”. Lively performers in show girl sequins and features. They were great at energizing the crowd, inviting volunteers up to the stage to dance.

But most memorable was the comedic magician who worked the crowd at the secret bar, as part of the VIP experience. All VIPs get their entry pass on a blinking LED lanyard. It is also your ticket to skipping the line at the most popular rides. Though on a night that called for a chance of rain there were no lines. The pass grants access to two specialty bars. One hidden, the other themed differently every opening night, courtesy of “Social Concierge”. “Social Concierge” brings an elevated event experience to Vancouverites all throughout the year. This year they were hosting “Wanderlust”. Four nights, four themes, and an invitation to “come feel like a kid again” at “Playland”.

 

Tonight the theme was “Neon Party”, (more on that later). July 12th is “Graffiti night”. Everyone wears white and is given glow-in-the-dark markers, and invited to get creative with one another and the empty walls. The result: a scene that seems to come alive under black light.

July 19th‘s theme is “Party hats”, like a grown up “hat day”. You wear your best head piece and come down to the amusement park to be seen. And for those who don’t have one, you can make your own at one of the craft tables.

The last night and their grand finale is themed “mystics and magic”. It includes roaming magicians, tarot card readers, and crystals. Here, you are invited to believe in magic again. Out of all the options I am the most excited for this one.

But back to today and the “Neon Party”. All guests were invited to come dressed in their best 80’s outfits with splashes of neon. To stand out under the black light glow of their lit tent. Here, there were toys scattered to keep guests playing. Bubbles blowers, glow sticks, jumping caps, sticky hands, and rainbow slinkies. A great way to start conversation and to keep you occupied as you wait for your drinks.

And that is the main reason to attend these adult nights: is the ability to drink during it all. To drink in this unique setting, sipping just as unique concoctions, offered across several bars.

At the VIP Neon Bar we tried all 4 of these specialty cocktails. The “Sno cone martini” is exactly what you think it is. A semi melted down, crushed ice, sno cone in a plastic martini glass. And I am glad they made the effort to get the right shape of glass in plastic, it makes all the difference when you are drinking. And it is what makes paying $12 for each of the following a bit more tolerable. This tasted like blue raspberry syrup, and none of the vodka.

The “French 75” is served in a champagne flute. A mix of gin, sparkling wine, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

The “Cotton candy martini” is made with a tuft of actual cotton candy that gets melted down by vodka and cranberry juice.

The “Flirtini” is more sparkling wine with gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

In order to get to the second VIP bar you need solve a series of riddles. The first is located on the back of your fast pass landyard , the second and third lead you to a bar bathed in yellow and orange. (No spoilers).

This converted space is dressed like you have stepped into a mystical kingdom. You sit on embroidered cushions on pattern rugs, you breath in the smell of burning sandalwood, you get your fortune told by a mystic machine, and are fully entertained by a roving magician, who spit out more comedy than magic tricks.

Here, we enjoyed two more specialty cocktails. But they also offer beer, wine, highballs, and cider from $8.50-13.00 a glass.

The “wanderlust gimlet” is gin, pineapple, simple syrup, and fresh sage.

“Carnival punch” is vodka, ginger beer, light beer, lemonade, and citrus.

We also had to try the “Tipsy unicorn” a novelty drink available for everyone to purchase. This neon coloured cocktail was glittery, rimmed with coloured sugar, and served smokey with dry ice. It is available in either orange mango or green apple. Based on the remaining mix, mango seemed to be the more popular of the two. But based on my preference of colour we got the green apple and it was like punch. Easy to drink and fun to lick the rim clean.

And for those who need to balance all their drinking with some food. “White Spot” is open for service, frying up their flamed grilled burgers.

And you can also get the classic bag of mini doughnuts or cotton candy from regular fair concession stands. Although I would advise you to have dinner before and utilize “Playland” as your after drink spot.

In short, this is such a great way to let loose as an adult. Coming in the evening has you avoiding crowds and bypassing long lines, all without the need to watch yourself in front of children. You can let loose and act like a child, in one of the funniest places in Vancouver. Plus have all the booze you need to get there. For more details and how you can get tickets for the next one, click the link below.

And to get a real look at how fun things can get, check out my very telling vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

PLAYLAND NIGHTS
2901 E Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 5J1
604-253-2311

The VIP Experience

NBA Finals at the River Rock Show Theatre

Did you know that on top of hosting a wide variety of comedic, musical, and dance acts, “River Rock’s Show Theatre” is known to broadcast the occasional sporting match on their 50ft HD screen as well?

And today I was one in a sea of Toronto Raptors fan and handful of Golden State Warriors enthusiasts; here to enjoy the down to the wire, suspenseful, yet disappointing game that was Game 5. On the bright side, those who are just reading this post now can head down to River Rock to enjoy game 6, and 7 if it gets that far. (Let’s hope not).

This event is free admission and first come first serve for seats. If you come early enough you can claim your spot on the lower level which includes full banquet tables and movie theatre style seating closer to the screen. Here, you can eat and drink as you watch. If you head up to the second floor balcony, only drinks are allowed there.

Once again you need not pay to get in, but all the food, drink, and snacks you want come at a cost. The back of the room is set up much like a buffet, with white table clothes and servers behind stations passing out hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, bags of chips, and an assortment of fizzy soda in cans. Adjacent, is a bar with beer on taps and coolers poured into plastic cups.

I grabbed a burger wrapped in foil, a thick beef patty on a bun, which you dress yourself at their condiment bar. Bowls of mayo, mustard, ketchup, and relish that you dole out with a spoon. There is also lettuce by the leaf and tomatoes in slices. It is a similar process for the hot dogs. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the beef patty was, not quite lTriple
O’s” but a heck of a lot better than at any bar or stadium that you would catch the game at.

The nachos on the other hand are your hard, yellow corn variety; coated in the dispensable, thick nacho cheese, familiar to many as “stadium nachos”. But also topped with green onion, tomato chunks, and spicy banana peppers for an additional flourish. Each hefty box is served with a dish of salsa. Pretty standard for this one.

As for the viewing it was great to be surrounded by like fans, in a theatre with a large screen to stare up at. Which also includes two additional smaller, more clear screens on either side. The acoustics of the theatre really amplified the cheering and the boo-ing. Definitely a better game watching experience than at any sports bar, or on your small screen at home.

“River Rock’s Show Theatre”, is one of West Coast’s premier entertainment destinations. They offers comfortable seating within their adaptable 21,000 feet, state-of-the-art space; which easily transforms between three flexible floor plans.

From a cabaret seating (without a dance floor) 1,000 seat auditorium, to a 450 seat theatre, and an 8,000 square foot trade show floor, all with a push of a button.

Upcoming live performances here include the “Price is Right Live”, Shaggy’s Wah Gwaan?! Tour, and the performance of Hwang Chi Yeul. As you can see a wide variety of entertainment for their wide variety of patrons. For more details, show times, and how to get tickets, visit the link below.

River Rock Show Theatre

RIVER ROCK SHOW THEATRE
8811 River Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3P8
604-247-8900

Cyklus Vancouver, indoor cycling

This would be my first time trying a cycling class. It was only for 15 minutes, but probably the last time doing so, so I figured it worth documenting here.

This was part of a unique advertising campaign hosted by Tourism Taiwan. They invited locals to “Discover the beauty of Taiwan through an immersive, fun-filled cycling event”. So a large group of us gathered at the newer cycling studio: “Cyklys Vancouver”, ready for a work out. We came dressed in tees and yoga pants, ready to sweat, and boy would we.

Check-in included signing up and exchanging your contact information for a pair of rental shoes. These were specially designed Velcro runners that would help secure you on to your chosen bike, later.

In groups, the entire studio waited for their turn. While our’s loomed over the bikes we staked a claim to, we sipped on our choice of red or white wine; as nibbles were passed around on trays. Meats on sticks and seafood on crackers, not quite the warm up I envisioned when I RSVP-ed for this unique experience; but I wasn’t about to turn down the ability to drink while exercising. In fact, I found a way to keep my drinking hands free with a make shift wine glass holder, on the actual bike.

When it was our turn to go, we geared up and locked ourselves in. The bottoms of our rental shoes clipped on to each stationary bike pedal. This is so that not one overly enthusiastic cyclist would ride too hard and fall off; a fail safe I had the pleasure of testing out first hand, by accident.

The mini class began with an introduction to Taiwan, promoting it as the ideal travel destination for those who appreciate the country side and like the idea of sightseeing through cycling. This included a promotional video, some recited statistics, and a speech from an ambassador of the Taiwanese consulate.

The actual cycling portion began with our charismatic instructor introducing himself and the studio we were within today. Keeping in mind this was just as much so an introduction to their cycling services, and we were all potential future clients. “Cyklys Vancouver”
celebrated themselves as Vancouver’s most innovative indoor cycling studio, with the lower mainland’s “finest spin instructors” pairing their talents with motivational music and video. They also boast a metric tracking system that links your bike and your ride to your fitness account, allowing you to track your progress and recap your work outs. And for those intimated they do reassure that their “low-impact workouts are adaptable for any fitness level, from beginners to advanced road cyclists”.

A single class costs $24, although if you plan on committing to a certain number of them, the set ride packs does save you a couple of dollars. And for those dedicated to multiple return visits a week the monthly pass at $169 is definitely the way to go. Each admission includes the use of their equipment and facilities, including the M3i Keiser bikes, cycling shoes, towels, and amenities to clean within after showers. Still not convinced? You can take them up on their complimentary 1 hour introduction classes, available on Tuesdays at 4 PM, Wednesdays at 8 AM, and some Saturdays at 3:30 PM. And from their your first 5 classes will cost you $70, a savings of $50!

But back to the class at hand, our instructor took us through a warm up, filling the silence with light banter. And when the count down ran we were off. Our experience took us through a video-graphic tour of Taiwanese’s scenic country side. There was also music to accompany this ride, it too Taiwanese inspired and themed. Although, to be honest I was so focused on my ride time and the stats that I could yield in this faux race, that I hardly took any of it in. Where we ranked, screens read how many pedal rotations we took, and how many calories we were losing; everything was calculated and tracked. All arranged with colour coding and flashing highlights to keep you achieving. All broadcasted on one of the many screens we were pedalling towards.

I quickly gave it my all, and quickly ran out of steam. But there was our instructor encouraging us through bouts of faster pedalling, and moments where we were asked to pedal up on our feel. It was helpful, and past all my sweating and all my moaning we finally hit the 15 minute mark, and were asked to do a cool down, with continuous and slower pedalling. The end result had me huffing and puffing and feeling light headed. I gave it my all and vowed to not do it again anytime soon.

Although with the information I gave out earlier, emails were sent reminding me of my good work, suggesting I return again for more. Maybe… it’s not the most unenjoyable way to work out.

CYKLUS VANCOUVER
889 Expo Blvd, Vancouver BC, V6B 1C4
604-782-6866
cyklusvancouver.com

Staycation at JW Marriot Vancouver

This weekend I was showing my girl friend around Parq for her birthday. I am a fan of the casino, with its two hotels and 8 restaurants and lounges, so decided to treat her to a staycation.

I have already spent the the night at The Douglas prior, so thought it would be nice to book us a night at the JW Marriott this time around.

For the review of “The Douglas“, visit the link below.

The Douglas, Autograph Collection

 

Booking over the phone was a lengthy process, as you don’t do so with a clerk from the actual hotel you plan on staying at. Instead the process is completed with a Marriott telemarketer, representing the entire chain of luxury hotels. Therefore, although as patience and as friendly as the woman who was helping me was, there was a disconnect. She couldn’t describe the difference between the mountain or the water view, or what the suite would look like. She was however helpful in helping me sort through all the packages in order to find one that suited my needs and delivered on what I was looking for. And best of all the price she listed me was exactly what I was charged for when I walked out after my stay. There were no hidden charges to speak of.

My ask for a suite on a higher floor was granted. Our 21st floor room faced the mountain, which was unfortunately obscured by the giant roof of BC Place. None-the-less with wrap around windows, our accommodations offered us much to look at, from bits of water, streaks of colour, blinking lights, and the city’s sky scrapers all around. We made sure to keep the blinds fully open to be able to enjoy the view from dusk till dawn.

The living room and the bed room was separated by a wall. Each room had its own 50 inch flat screen mounted. We would spend majority of our stay in the living area with its lengthy couch. It was both great for sitting on, as it was to lay across of. The coffee table became our bar and the work desk across from it our storage table.

We retrieved the room’s ice bucket from the cupboard and called room service for another. Ice was available in pre-doled out packs in plastic. You retrieved it from the ice closet, one is available on each floor; kept cool in a mini fridge for self service. But once again room service is more than happy to send anything you need, your way.

The mini fridge and snack bar, like many modern hotels are set up on a sensor. You remove a bottle, a beverage, or a container and you get charged regardless of consuming it. Here, there were several cans of pops and beers, and miniature bottles of spirits. To snack on there were chocolates, nuts, and popcorn. There was even a sleep kit that included tea, ear plugs, and aromatherapy. We passed on those, but took advantage of the complimentary use coffee machine with pods, tea bags, and even a biscuit.

My girl friend and I shared a king size bed. Plenty of room and fluffy sheets for a great night sleep. Truly one of the most comfortable beds I have ever had the pleasure of resting my head on. And with the blinds drawn, not a stream of light infiltrated our darkened sleeping quarters. Each side of the bed had its own lamp and electrical plug with USB port, practical for the modern traveller.

But it was the washroom that was the show stopper. The suite granted us both a shower and a bath tub, with a completely closeted toilet. The shower was a walk it with marble underfoot. Complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and body wash was available in pump bottles. My guest enjoyed the shower with handheld shower head and a rain facet overhead.

For the tub you were given a bar of oatmeal soap and a scrub sponge to exfoliate with. I took my time in this, drawing a long bath that had me sweating from the heat.

The birthday girl was also gifted a cake in celebration of the occasion, from the hotel. A chocolate and red velvet layered cheesecake with fresh fruit. What a great way to welcome us and help be a part of her special day.

Truly this was a luxury suite befitting of their brand, a hotel I would recommend again, and one that I would easily visit for a future staycation. And next time around, maybe enjoy their spa that includes access to their steam room, roof top hot tub, and fitness centre with any massage appointment. They also have a beauty salon with hair washing and styling and full nail bar with mani and pedi services!

 

For a recap of what else Parq has to offer, check out my previous visit’s Vlog on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

For our dinner at “The Victor” this weekend, visit the link below.

The Victor, revisit

 

Click the link for our late night snack at “Mrkt East”.

Mrkt East, at Parq

 

And for our brunch the morning after at “Honey Salt”, check out the post below.

Honey Salt, brunch

Goat Yoga at Maan Farms

Animals and people just go hand in hand, both as pets and as companions. But not everyone is able to have their very own fur baby, be it the cost of rearing an animals, not being able to house them in a pet-friendly environment, or the potential of allergens. Therefore places and activities that allow you to get up close and personal with your favourite animal seem to be a great solution/alternative. Specialty cafes allow you to sip coffee with cats. And it is so popular of a concept that variations such as rabbit cafes, hedgehog cafes, and even owl cafes are a thing. Unfortunately they all exist in Japan. Luckily Vancouver now has its own animal themed experience, one that best mirrors our West Coast lifestyle. Introducing “goat yoga”! The yoga class that has you flexing with kids (the plural of baby goats)!

This very unique class requires no formal yoga knowledge, no shots, or waivers. Just a lengthy travel out to Abbotsford’s “Maan Farms”. Known of being more than just your neighbour farmers, they offer more than just berries and fresh vegetables. They also host families with plenty of seasonally driven activities like a corn maze to scamper through, a petting farm to interact with baby goats, a wooden fortress and plenty of obstacles for kids to climb over and slide under, and their pumpkin patch when Halloween rolls around. And for the parents, they have a great store featuring their hand picks produce for sale, a bakery with fresh baked goods, the perfect pairing for their spread and compotes. And they even offer wine tastings, a showcase of their own fruit flavoured wines for tasting and purchasing.

But for me the allure is their goat yoga classes and the ability to do it while drinking wine. However the timing was off and we weren’t able to secure a spot in that class, so this is my recap of regular goat yoga; still good, but admittedly just not as enticing as a glass of red in one hand and the petting of a goat in the other. All while comfortable in stretchy yoga wear, sitting barefoot on a foamy mat.

When I agreed to participate in “goat yoga” I didn’t realize the distance I would have to drive to get there. 56km, and I made the mistake of giving myself only 1 hour to commute. Therefore we were late by the time we found parking in their small gravel lot.

A chalkboard sign directs you into the above mentioned grocery store of sorts. There, the clerk behind the cash desk points you in the right direction of the right barn. A white building aged from the elements. Inside, you are instructed to pack away your shoes and purse, as the goats will in fact try to take a nibble of both if left unattended. You then claim your place amongst the others by laying your yoga mat out in one of the parallel lines that take up the entire room. Despite the travel time, our entire class was booked, it was literally a full barn.

A representative from the farm thanks you for attending and introduces you to the class to come; including an introduction to the instructor: a certified yogi for the hour. Our yoga instructor told us to go at your pace, taking on movements and motions to make the class your own. She reassured us it was okay to be afraid of the goats, and that she felt the same when when she first started teaching in this barn. She emphasized fun and that it is what you make of it. In my case, it was less about stretching, and more about taking candids of the goats.

To get a better idea of what doing yoga with goats is like, check out my latest video on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Admittedly the goats are a distraction to the yoga process. Goat feed is placed before every mat, in order to lure them to you. And as they nibble you pet and photograph. But watch out for your hair, if available they will try to chew through that as well, true story. But if the goats get out of hand, cause too much of a disruption to you, or if you look too uncomfortable by them, there are two handlers on site to help steer them away or direct them to something else more willing. These individuals are equipped with brooms and pails should any of these farm animals decide to relieve themselves. It didn’t happen to me, but one of the attendees did have her yoga mat urinated on by one of the goats. And one of the farm employees was quick with the paper towel to soak it all up.

The goats are harmless, they roam about looking for food, most gnawed at the wooden supports of the barn; but a few grew bored of doing that, so curled their hoofs under themselves and went to sleep.

If you missed out on some quality goat time during the session, there are plenty of opportunity to get close to the goats after the class. During this time staged selfies are possible.

To end time, everyone gets a snack of chai ice tea and samosas with dip. All of which are prepared at the farm using their home grown ingredients. This enjoyed outside, away from hungry and brazen goats.

The rest of the time is yours, your $40 fee includes admission to the farm and the ability to roam and engage  in some of the above mentioned activities. For us the jungle gym and the fighting with the kids at a birthday party to pet the available farm animals didn’t seem all that appealing. So we found ourselves in their shop salivating over fresh baked cookies with jams and taking part in their wine tasting. $5 gave you a taste of 4 out of their 8 fruit dessert wine offerings.

Unfortunately they are no longer offering goat yoga or goat yoga with wine classes. But I advised staying in touch through their website to be able to book a class if and when they do become available. For now, they have other yoga classes available and a lot of other different activities to have you visiting them this summer.

 

MAAN FARMS
790 McKenzie Road, Abbotsford BC, V2S 7N4
604-864-5723
maanfarms.com

A Day at the Hastings Racetrack

I have visited the Hastings Racetrack a handful of times now. But for each, it was for an event with drinking and food in the foreground; and the actual race, an add on. So admittedly, I have yet to bet on a horse, and don’t even really know how to go about doing so. That’s why I was ecstatic to receive this invitation to the racetrack. On this day, I would be attending their Superfecta weekend, where my visit came with a behind the scenes look at the race day, a crash course in betting, and a lovely lunch on the Molson Canadian patio.

 

For the more exciting version to this recap, check out the latest video on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, as it details how @itsjosheats and I won big at the racetrack!

Our attendance included drink tickets to try a few of the speciality cocktails being shaken and poured on the day. All out of a four sided, roving, popup bar. It featured local bartenders representing their place of employment, with fun race track and horse inspired beverages. You were able to claim your drink, then climb up scaffolding to the bar’s roof top patio.

“The Diamond” was offering a cocktail called “The Front Runner” with Bombay gin, bianco vermouth, strawberry bell pepper syrup, lavender bitters, and soda. It was a very light drink, great for those who don’t actually like the taste of alcohol.

“Mamie Taylors” gave you a much stronger drink, for those who do. This was aptly named “Wild Horses”. It is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, peach, mint, and bitters.

“The Boxcar” had a “Dill Spritz” that was light and refreshing. It was made with dill infused cazadores, blanco tequila, luxardo, bitter bianco, lemon, honey, lem-Marrakech bitters, soda, and bubbly.

We also had a light lunch on the Molson patio, an area right by the track, marked in red with shade providing umbrellas and its own bar. Here, a catered assortment of fresh vegetables, cured meats, cubed cheeses, and chocolatey desserts were made available to nibble on, as the horses trotted on.

We enjoyed a few races at our position: on the side of the track, a few meters from the finish line marker. Although truthfully, your view here is limited to only what is before you, as you can’t really make out the competitors as they run the full race. The match is televised both on the track side screen; but also world wide for those betting on the online, to be able to follow along. The aforementioned screen does helps, but it too is kept at a distance in needed of squinting.

Being by the track is best for getting a closer look at the contenders, and for petting the horses, should an opportunity arise. This is especially popular with small school aged children, and the social media conscious (as seen with the photos above).

But of course, the view is significantly better higher above. Here, you get to see more of the horses racing, for longer, around larger stretches of track. This was the view from the sky box and the sky deck. A, area reserved for VIPs to eat, drink, and enjoy the festivities from high above, and afar.

Although my favourite view of the visit, was definitely that of the announcers’, in his secluded booth. He and the judges/referees, communicated past a plexiglass barrier, separating their individual box suites.

With binoculars and a list of horses competing, he gave those watching a verbal blow by blow, high above his perch lined with megaphones. He broke down stats, opened and closed out the betting, and was basically the park’s hype man. After all, as much as this was an attraction for folks like me; a day at the races typically means betting for other more dedicated race day enthusiasts.

And we would get a taster of this: being able to place our own bets. But first we would get a crash course on how to do so. How to make a bet at any of the wickets, through the available machines, or even on your phone. To boil it down, you decided which horse you wanted to bet on, how much you wanted to bet on it, and how it will win. “Your horse” doesn’t need to win, it just needs to finish first, second, or third; if you are betting “to place”. Naturally you don’t make as much money as betting to win does/would, but this way, it gives you a greater chance to win.

If you are placing said bet verbally, there is a pattern of speech in which to place the bet. This “how to” is posted at the cash register for an easy reference. My first time was not as intimidating as I conceived it in my head, in realty it was as easy as the ticket for my bet being printed out.

From here, you need only cheer for your winning horse, while hoping for the desired outcome. Having something at stake, while watching, does make it a lot more exciting. But don’t just take my word for it, check out the video above, and then visit the racetrack yourselves, for a fun way to spend a sundays. And if horses aren’t you thing, they also offer dog races. English bulldogs and corgis, just to name a few.

 

HASTINGS RACETRACK
PNE Gate 6 or 9
188 N. Renfrew Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 3N8
604-254-1631
hastingsracecourse.com

Movement108, presented by Saucony

Those who know me know that the last thing I’d ever want to do is exercise. I hate sweating and having to wash my long hair after sweating. However when presented with an opportunity to try something new, my curious spirit outweighs my lazy one. So this morning, at 9am I was found myself walking into “Movement108” for a fitness class.

This was a session sponsored by the athletic brand “Saucony”, founded two years after the first Olympic marathon and dedicated to running ever since. I have heard of the brand, but have never experienced it or its merchandise first hand. That was until today, when they geared me up for the morning ahead with my first set of actual and purposeful active wear. There are so many other athletic brands out there that I grew up with instead, so I was excited to see first hand what set “Saucony” apart. I was gifted gear from head to toe, with every everything I needed for a good work, minus the bra and underwear.

The shoes were surprisingly comfortable. They fit small so a half size up was the right ones for me. Shockingly they were easy to slip on and snug to stay on; even with no laces. Walking in them felt like you were gliding on padded ground. Each step was well cushioned, ideal for walking, jogging, running, and everything in between. Best, with their no slip socks that helped with the cushioning of my sole.

I had my option of tops between a supportive tank with peak-a-boo back or a loose fitting tee; both meant to absorb and wick-away moisture. Moisture like the bucket of sweat I would soon exude. But best of all was the yoga pants. This set of stretchy spandex leggings are the most supportive and comfortable I have ever wriggled myself into. A combination of lulu’s and Spanx. They have the wearability of Lululemon yoga pant; thick and dressy enough to wear around day to day, and maybe even low key to work. And the suppressing and forming abilities of Spanx shape wear. It sat firm and at all the right place to hide my muffin top. All above had me wondering what one of their supportive sports bras would have felt like.

Now that I was geared up it was time to put it all to the test. Luckily I was at the right place to do just that. Like it’s name suggests, “Movement108” is a fitness centre where the goal getting you to move. Movement with the focus of balance and strength, in order to foster mobility and stability in your every day motions.

Admittedly I am not a fit person, nor is it my goal to be. I work on my feet 9 hours a day and am use to walking great distances, and that has kept me relatively healthy. So already I knew I had an up hill climb. But I was motivated to do my best with the company I was in, including @pekopekolife, whom I was the plus one of. She and the instructor were great in keeping me going with their support and belief in me. Although towards the end of our session I was firm in listening to my body and knowing when to not push myself.

As for the actual hour long session we began by taking advantage of the clear day. We started our time together with a light jog around the block to get us warmed up.

 

When we got back in the studio we utilized the entire space and all the equipment in a series of exercises. Mind you, I am not sure of all the real names of things, so my recap is by novice descriptions of both the equipment and exercises. Kettle bells for squats and pushes, weighted balls for throw downs and pick ups, stretchy handlebars attached to a bar for lifting your own body weight, giant crates to step up on to, and heavy braided ropes attached to the wall to lift and slap against the ground. Each motion activated a different party of my body, and boy did I feel it. As intensive as it all was for a beginner, there were abbreviations you could make, to ease the difficulty level. On the flip side you could also edit the routine to give yourself an even greater challenge.

 

Each class is different and catered to the one taking it, so I won’t be going into detail on what it is we actually did. Instead, I invite you to visit their website and use it for a self guided consultation. But know that immediately after this class, my well used legs were sore from buttock to ankle. And the day after the whole body followed in soreness. So know that it was a good workout, and one that I was feeling days to come. Every body part got stretched and pulled without my realizing it; s every part was sore because of it. I don’t think I have ever been so sore from doing anything in my life.

In short, they are worth checking out if you are like me. You need something/someone/a reason to push and drive you in to a work out. Left to my own devices I would not visit my own home gym, let alone engage in any of the above. It is like university courses taken online, I am not driven enough as a student to do the work myself. I need somewhere to be and someone telling me what to do to in order for me to gain. And here they do it to great music and plenty of variety to keep you continuously engaged. In short a morning well spent, trying something new, and doing something that helped to better myself.

 

MOVEMENT 108
108-1529 6th Ave West, Vancouver BC, V6J 1R1
604-999-4385
movement108.com

 

SAUCONY
saucony.com

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