My top 20 things to do in Whistler, Canada

I’ve been living in Whistler for almost 8 months now. And despite being here that long, I’ve really only scratched the surface. I’m lucky enough to have my own personal tour guide however. My boyfriend Matt has been living here for 15 years and has shown me some of the less visited/touristy places. Here are some of my favourite places that I’ve visited so far. I’ve split this into Winter and Summer activities, as they really do depend on the season.

Whistler has lots to offer year round, as a non-skier, this list is great for both skiers and non-skiers. I did take a few skiing lessons on the Mountain when I had my ski pass, and I’d highly recommend taking some as snow school were fantastic.

Winter/Autumn (Fall)

I must admit I’m not a huge fan of winter, I hoped Whistler would change my mind. And it did, the snow was great. It was a winter wonderland, a truly magical place unlike anywhere I’ve been before. Here are some of my favourite activities this past winter.

1)Tubing

The Whistler Coca-Cola tube park is located on Blackcomb and really good for groups or families. On rainy days they will close some of the lanes, mostly the ones where you can go down as a group. But if you can go on a good snow day it is so much fun! There are also smaller tubes and lanes for little people.

2) The Peak to Peak Gondola

The Peak to Peak Gondola connects Whistler Mountain’s Roundhouse Lodge to Blackcomb’s Rendezvous Lodge. It holds the Guinness World Record for:

  • World’s longest unsupported span for a lift of this kind at 3.024km/1.88miles
  • World’s highest lift of its kind at 436m/1,427ft above the valley floor.

The Peak to Peak gives you a 360 degree view. Several of the gondolas even have a glass bottom, meaning you can view the mountain below you. Pretty rad, no?

3) Snowmobiling!

Snowmobiling was one of the funnest things I did this past winter. I was lucky enough to go on a 3 hour snowmobile tour with a friend through Canadian Wilderness Adventures. There are two options for this, single or double riders. We did the double and I think it was much more fun with two people on one snowmobile. Our guide was fantastic, she took us to some frozen over lakes where we had to snowmobile down some rather big drops. It was scary, but so so much fun! I have never screamed so much in my life. I’d highly recommend a tour through this company. They take you through the Callaghan Valley and will pick you up and drop you off at Skiers Plaza or a hotel location.

Alternatively, if you have a boyfriend with a snowmobile he can take you for free *wink wink* Although Matt’s snowmobile was much bigger for me and far more powerful. Hence flying off of it. Be careful out there!

4) Hike to the Train Wreck

The Whistler Train Wreck is one of the more famous places to visit. This can be done during Winter or Summer, depending on the snow fall. I did this in early winter before the snow came. The train wreck displays lots of local graffiti. There are several different train cars surrounding this area, some in worse condition than others. A great place to hike and mountain bike during the summer months too.

5) Eagle Watching in Brackendale

Heading south into Squamish, a 35 minute drive from Whistler, is the town of Brackendale: The winter home of the Bald Eagle. I visited here in the winter and if you’re in the area this is a really cool place to see. In the winter months, Bald eagles flock to this area of BC.  You can spot many of these amazing birds in the Eagle run section.

6) Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre

The Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre can be visited all year round. On the day I visited it was a heavy snow day. The inside of the museum has a very calming atmosphere, when coupled with soft snowflakes outside it’s a pretty magical experience.

The town of Whistler is situated where the native territories of Squamish nation and Lil’Wat nation overlap. Both cultures very similar but different from each other, came together to build this centre to educate people on first nations culture. I find Native American/First nations history very interesting and thoroughly enjoyed my time here. We joined a free guided tour through the museum, which started with our guides singing a native song for us. We also learned about the different meanings of totem poles. A very insightful visit and highly recommended.

7) Apres!

If you’re visiting a ski resort town and not joining in the apres, you’re doing it wrong! Here are some of Whistler’s most popular apres:

Merlins – Located at the base of Blackcomb mountain, Merlins is the home of endless apres.

Longhorns – one of the more popular places for Apres as Longhorns is located right at the base of the Whistler Gondola

Swedish Apres @ Cinnamon Bear – The Swedish Apres happens every Tuesday. Located inside the Hilton Hotel at the Cinnamon Bear.

Monster Energy Apres @ GLC – The Monster Energy Apres at the GLC (Garibaldi Lift Company) happens once every month, so make sure you check your calendar ad check it out! They have drinks special and a DJ booth on the patio, this event gets full pretty quickly and you do get a stamp for leaving/re-entering.

Summer/Spring

My favourite! Who doesn’t love summer? Here are my favourite things to do in the spring and summer months in Whistler

Visit a Waterfall

So far this season I’ve visited a grand total of… six waterfalls. That doesn’t sound like that many but I feel like I’ve seen way more.

8) Brandywine Falls

Brandywine is one of the more famous waterfalls around Whistler. The falls can be visited quite easily during summer, it freezes over in the winter but is just as pretty. There is a viewing deck from the top which gets you some pretty good views. Or if like me that’s just not good enough, you can always opt to hike your way down to the falls. It’s not too difficult once you find your way. We walked around the forest for a while before finding the trail.

9) Nairn Falls

Located north of Whistler in Pemberton is Nairn Falls Provincial Park. The hike into here is really easy and there is a viewing platform here. I’m sure there is a way to hike beyond the viewing deck boundary but on this occasion I wasn’t prepared to try it. There is also some great places to hike down to the river on the way to the falls.

10) Alexander Falls

Located in the Callaghan Valley, just before you get to Whistler Olympic Park is Alexander Falls. To get here is really easy and there is no walk to get to the actual falls. It’s right at the doorstep of the parking lot. Great for days when you want to see a waterfall but don’t fancy the hiking!

11) Shannon Falls

Another one located in Squamish. This area is really good for recreational activities. The Shannon Falls Provincial Park has several hiking trails and places to stop and have a picnic. A really beautiful area. You can also access the trail for the Stawamus Chief trail as well as the Sea to Sky gondola. Just up the road from here is also Alice Lake.

12) Rainbow Falls

This little waterfall isn’t as impressive as some of the others. But if you’re hiking up to rainbow lake or in the area and want an easy hike, this is a neat little place to see.

13) Miscellaneous

You’ll find that you sometimes come across waterfalls while hiking to other places. While hiking through the Whistler Interpretive Forest a few weeks back, we came across this small waterfall (Yes, this is a small one) Apparently is has adopted the name “balls falls” by kayakers.

This is a tiny waterfall we found while hiking this past week to the Ancient Cedars. It’s tiny, but just as beautiful.

14) Sea to Sky Gondola

The Sea to Sky Gondola is located in Squamish. I was lucky enough to do this for free, having been given a Vancouver tourism passport through my employer (thanks Four Seasons!) I’d waited months and months to do this, If you’re thinking of going up, make sure you get that good blue sky. At $41.95 per person, I wouldn’t want to waste such a good view on a cloudy day. Whistler gets some amazing bluebird days during the winter, so whatever season you’re visiting you’ll get a breathtaking view. The viewing decks as you arrive at the top overlook the amazing fjord that is howe sound. A similar view can be found at the top of the chief.

Once at the top of the Gondola they have a mountain-top restaurant and gift shop, several hiking trails and a suspension bridge. We took the easiest route which was the panorama trail. Along this trail you’ll find a variety of lookouts, one featuring Olsen falls.

15) Hike to the ghost town of Parkhurst

Last month I hiked to the ghost town of Parkhurst, previously a small logging town that was abandoned in the 1950’s. In order to get here there is more than one trail. The trail that we took was along the railway tracks on the backside of green lake. Most of the houses in this area have now unfortunately fallen down. But there is one house that still stands with a few old trucks and cars. A pretty surreal place to be.

16) Hiking the Ancient Cedars Trail

Before setting off on this hiking trail, I will recommend bringing one thing. BUG SPRAY. I’m currently sat typing this while scratching every inch of my body. The hike into the actual Cedars was fine, but once in, it was mosquito heaven (AKA hell). We passed some hikers leaving the trail who asked if we had insect repellent, after replying with a no, they both hand me a tree branch and tell me I’ll need it. I trusted their judgement and yes, it did actually help. Still got eaten alive, but less so I imagine. Getting to see the the biggest and oldest trees in whistler was still a great experience and one I’d recommended.

17) Audain Art Museum

A great place to visit, rain or shine, is the Audain Art Museum. Located in the heart of Whistler, this museum houses lots of native art and exhibitions. I was recently here for the opening reception of the Chili Thom Experience. Chili Thom was a renowned local artist in Whistler who recently passed away. As a lover of surreal art, I think his artwork captures the essence of Whistler and mountain life. I first heard of him shortly after I arrived in Whistler. Some of his work is still on Display in places like Sushi Village. If you are in Whistler while this exhibition is running I’d recommend checking it out.

18) Spot a Black Bear!

During the spring time the bears of Whistler start waking up, and during the summer you’re very likely to see one. Just recently I spotted Bjorn the Black Bear while he was outside a block of apartments eating. It was crazy to think how close we were to him. I think this fella is due to be relocated as he is too accustomed to people now. Whistler offers several bear watching tours.

I managed to see these three guys on the road up to Olympic park.

19) Fairmont Fridays

Fairmont Fridays happens every Friday in The Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. From 5:30pm to 6:30pm they have a happy hour with free appetisers. As well as deals on wine, beer and half price cocktails. Try the Sangria! This runs year-round so no matter which time of year you visit be sure to check it out.

20) Visit the City/See a hockey Game

Take a day trip and visit the city of Vancouver. A 1 hour 40 minute bus ride from Whistler, you can get a return trip for $35 through Epic Rides.

Enjoy Canada’s favourite sport and watch the Canucks play at Rogers Arena. Located near to Yale Town, and China Town there are some interesting neighbourhoods to discover.

Have you visited Whistler yet? What are your favourite things to do here?

Hopping across the border: Two days in Seattle

I finally made it to Seattle!

After putting it on my 2017 goals, I managed to make a quick trip across the border to the rainy state of Washington. I made it to Seattle!

I spent my two days off road tripping down to Washington State with four friends. With only two days to play with we made a simple itinerary, ticking off Seattle’s most popular tourist spots. We hired a car and left early morning, the drive down was actually quite relaxing, with some awesome views along the way.

There is only one place in Whistler to hire a car from – Avis at the Cascade Lodge. We arrived before they opened and were the first to get our car. Yay!

Before leaving to get the car, I nearly forgot my passport – oops! I did however, forget my IEC visa, which was fine but you really should staple or always keep it in your passport (which I have since done) because you will need it to re-enter the country.

Once we were on the road we stopped in Squamish for a coffee at Tim’s, I also got a donut and bagel. Me eating became the theme of this trip.

It didn’t take us long to reach the border, the longest part of our journey was trying to get through Vancouver. Once we reached the border, we were asked for passports and then had to park up and go get our visas from inside the building. This took a while, but it was a relatively smooth process and costed $4 each.

Border crossing selfie

We were then back on the road. Washington is beautiful, lots of mountains and trees on the way over. I could tell we were getting close when the first radio station we put on had Nirvana playing. One of my favourite songs too. The drive in total took us 6 hours and we arrived just after 3pm.

Checked into the Travelodge by the Space Needle on 6th Avenue. This was a very basic hotel but fine for one night and a very comfy bed!

Once at the hotel we dropped off our bags and went exploring! Downtown is approximately 15 minutes walk from where we stayed. And it was a nice walk too. Lots off cool little coffee shops and cafes along the way.

Naturally our first stop was the Public Market at Pike Place. I was pretty stoked to see this. It quickly became my favourite part of Seattle. Why? Because there was food vendor after food vendor!

Pike Place Market

This little piggy went to Pike Place market

The Original

I got in some touristy snaps of the world’s first Starbucks, as an avid Starbucks lover and basic white girl this was pretty cool to see.

Then it hit me. The smell of cinnamon and everything yummy. I stood there sniffing and asking where it was coming from. This was the start of my downfall. I spotted it, a piroshsky shop. The only time I have ever heard of a piroshsky shop was in Orange is the new black when Red mentions she owns one. I was amazed, everything looked SO good! I ended up choosing a cinnamon twist and a raspberry and white chocolate piroshsky.

What is a Piroshsky you ask? It’s a Russian pastry/bun that’s filled with either sweet of savoury fillings. I was in here for a while. Everything looked SO good. The place I went to was called “Piroshsky Piroshsky” and since googling, I’ve found they’re very famous, and now deliver. Oh, to live in Seattle!

Piroshky Piroshky. Cinnamon goodness

Along this little stretch of shops we popped our heads in and out trying free samples. Cheese, olive oil, jams, truffle oils, pesto, greek yoghurt. This place has everything.

After my piroshsky binge, I then purchased a raspberry and white chocolate individual cheese cake. This was just amazing. I did save this for my pre-bedtime snack though, just as a disclaimer!

Mmmm cheesecake!

We finished up at the market and headed to the gum wall to make our mark. I have no idea who came up with this idea, and it’s a little bit gross but I kinda love it.

Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia to give you an idea of it’s origins “The wall is by the box office for the Market Theater, and the tradition began around 1993 when patrons of Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresports stuck gum to the wall and placed coins in the gum blobs. Theater workers scraped the gum away twice, but eventually gave up after market officials deemed the gum wall a tourist attraction around 1999. Some people created small works of art out of gum.”

Making my mark in Seattle

It was around 5:30/6pm now so we decided to go get some drinks as most places had happy hour until 7pm. We discussed going to the Hard Rock Cafe when a local woman overheard and suggested we go to a locals place by the post alley called The Alibi Room. We tried, it was packed, and a 30 minute wait. So back to HRC we went. Keen to get a drink, but alas, it wasn’t to be. In Washington state it’s the law that you have to have a passport as I.D. We did end up going back to the Alibi Room, this time with passports in tow. I ordered their Irish coffee. But it was probably one of the worst things I’ve tasted. I’ll stick to beer next time.

Dinner tonight was at the crab pot along the waterfront. This was an incredible experience. Especially if you like seafood like me. They place a long piece of paper along your table, then throw down a mix of crab legs, mussels, clams, shrimp, corn & potatoes. You’re given a wooden block, a fork and wooden hammer. Then your free to bash away. This was such a fun experience. I loved wearing the bib, it was great. The food itself was really fresh and the crab just tasted so good.

Before

And after!

We ended the nights with drinks and a slow walk back to the hotel via a hotdog van.

Seattle at night

Day Two

Day 2 consisted of making our way straight to the Space Needle. About a 5 minute walk from our hotel, we managed to get an entry time of 10:30 – 11am. The views from u here were really nice, despite the wind and rain. You get a 360 view of the whole city, right out into the pacific.

Space Needle admission prices are $22 for general adult admission.

Right next to the Space Needle is the museum of pop culture, which actually looked really cool. We only browsed the outside and lobby. This museum isn’t free and we didn’t have time to do this but if I were to return to Seattle, this is something I’d love to see for sure.

Next up, was the monorail. I was having a bit of a Disney moment at this point. The Space Needle and monorail just reminded me of Disneyland so much! As well as Epcot, a lot of Disney attractions were designed in the 60s during the space age. the monorail was around $2 for one way and was pretty cool ride. We were like big kids sitting at the front so we could “drive”

Monoraaaaaiiiil…

We departed the monorail and my first stop had to be H&M. For an emergency pair of jeans. The night before, my jeans had ripped open and every time I sat down it kept getting bigger and bigger. I had to walk around the whole day with my jeans ripped on the butt cheek, luckily I was wearing a relatively long coat!

Too much good stuff

On the way to H&M we passed a square with several food trucks and having seen what everyone else was eating we just had to try something. Two of the girls got fish and chips – and this looked like GOOD fish and chips. I opted for the middle eastern food truck and went with a chicken gyro. And it was good. SO good. The food trucks were very popular with the locals too. I’m assuming this happens every Friday, but I’ve not been able to find any information online. So if you’re in Seattle on a Friday, check out this place.

Once in H&M I found my emergency pair of jeans, popped into some other stores. Forever 21, hell yes! Refused to buy anything because my Canadian dollars wouldn’t stretch (Just like my jeans) and we made our way back down to Pike Place market.

Pike Place at night

Here’s where I bought… More food! I couldn’t leave Seattle without trying the Baklava. It was my treat for on the way home. Well, one of them anyway. My roomate bought some fancy olive oil that she’ll probably never use. We stopped and got some last minute souvenirs – starbucks city mugs anyone? Then started the 5/6 hour journey back home to Whistler. On the way to the Canadian/US boarder we stopped at an outlet mall. It was glorious. I wish there was something similar near Vancouver. I only bought a few things, that will save me money in the long term (isn;t that what every girl says?) On the way back it rained. And rained. But it was kind of nice. We arrived back in Whistler at a very early 11pm.

I really enjoyed my short time in Seattle, and would love to explore Washington state a bit more in the future. Thats state number 7 ticked off the bucket list!

Canadian Working Holiday – Guide to working a season in Whistler

Thinking about doing a working holiday in Canada? Always wanted to do a season in Whistler? Here are some of my tips I’ve learnt since being here. I’m sure there are many many more, so if you have any advice for me, please let me know.

Chilling on Rainbow Mountain

Where to Start

When I first decided I was going to do the Working Holiday in Canada, I had no idea where to start. There are so many resources online for moving and working in Australia, but very little in comparison for Canada. So, not knowing where to start or what to do, I decided I was going to go through an agency. Then I had the dilemma of which one to choose? Where do I start? The two main ones I looked into were, BUNAC and The Working Holiday Club. Eventually I decided to go with TWHC, mostly based on the fact they were a smaller company and therefore I felt that maybe I’d get a more personalised service.

TWHC were great, from the very beginning right through to getting to Canada. They took me through everything from how to apply for my visa, to interviews, questions I might get asked, and what documents to print for immigration. The whole process was really smooth, long but smooth.

One of the reasons I went through TWHC too, was to go work for a tourist/resort area. As mentioned before I’d never skied before coming to Canada, so that wasn’t the appeal for me. But the chance to try and do something new. Plus Whistler is a hub for international people who love to travel. This is a great town to meet people from all over the world. If you’re looking at doing a working holiday in Canada, you don’t have to come to Whistler or go through an agency. There are many other places to try out. Some people I work with actually started out in Banff, which is another very popular area for working holiday participants.

To find out more visit www.theworkingholidayclub.com they work with people from the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

What does it cost?

Getting here was not cheap, think about all the things you’ll need to buy/book before you get here and give yourself a budget. Every time I saved, I had to pay out for something.

Here’s a rundown of my costs

TWHC fee – £699

Visa fee – $230 (£143)

Insurance fee – £676 (for two years)

Flight – £300

Housing deposit – £320 approx

ski jackets and pants – £175 approx

toiletries to take with me – £50 approx

Hostel stay in Vancouver – 1 night free with TWHC + £35 for extra night

Greyhound & extra luggage fees – $19 + $30 for overweight luggage (£30)

These were all my fees before I arrived in Canada/Whistler.

Total cost: £2428

Yes, it’s a lot of money but over the space of the year it wasn’t too bad as it was all done gradually. Keep in mind that the Housing deposit you get back once you check out of staff housing, and part of it will also go towards your first months rent. Apart from the TWHC fee, all of these were essential things that I needed to purchase anyway. I have friends who didn’t go through any agency to get here and paid around 2k to live in a hostel until they were offered staff housing. In the long run I saved money by doing it this way, and had the reassurance that everything was done for when I got here.

Gas Town, Vancouver

How long does it take?

The process of going through this was very long, I didn’t mind this so much because it gave me a while to save more money, which I’m very glad I did! While saving to move to Whistler, I also did weekends away in Europe every so often, to cure my wanderlust. After you receive your work permit through CIC, you can enter the country at any time after the approval date. So I could have entered Canada way back in January or February last year.

Here is a rough timeline of the process I went through.

13th December 2015 – Sent in my application for the visa pool

16th December 2015 – The first round of invitations were sent out

22rd December 2015 – I received my invite to apply

I can’t remember the date that I actually sent in my application but I think it was around the 28th and I had to update some information after that

14th January 2016 – Application approved!

I then had a phone interview with TWHC around Jan time, to see which roles I’d be interested in.

July 26th 2016 – Had my interview with Whistler Blackcomb in London

12th August 2016 – Got offered the job!

6th November 2016 – Flew to Canada

24th November 2016 – the mountain opened and work started

For more information on whether you are eligible to apply for the IEC visit the CIC website here

What to bring with you

Before you start packing you should have a list of the important documents that you might need to bring over with you. I printed out everything just in case immigration officers would want to see them, but also when getting a second job you will also need these documents.

Passport – the most important! Don’t forget it

POE – point of entry letter. This is your work permit, you need this on arrival into the country in order to get your visa. It is valid for one year from the date of issue

Police certificate

Copy of your travel insurance policy

Before I came out to Whistler, I’d heard that everything here is expensive, and it really is. Expect alcohol (go figure). Everything in the supermarkets is bumped up in price. $15 for cheese. Yup.

So with this in mind, and wanting to save as much money as I could, I decided to stock up. Throughout the year I would buy extra toiletries and just put them away in my “Canada stash”. This way I wouldn’t feel like I was spending as much as buying it all in one. Maybe I went a little overboard with it, but the upside is that I’ve had to buy very little while being here. The main thing I’ve had to buy is shampoo.

Here’s what I brought out with me (no wonder I was so overweight)

  • shampoo x 4
  • conditioners x 3
  • face washes x 2
  • face exfoliator x 1
  • packs of razors x 4
  • toothpastes x 2
  • toothbrushes x 2
  • cough syrups x 2
  • sore throat lozenges x 1
  • packs of paracetamol x 2
  • packs of tampons and pads x 2
  • shower gels x 2
  • deodorants x 4
  • bottle of perfume x 1
  • body spray x 1
  • pair of ear plugs x 1
  • shower loufer x 1
  • bottle of micellar water x 1
  • pack of micellar water face wipes x 1
  • pack of plasters/band-aids x 1
  • face moisturisers x 2
  • pack of cotton buds x 1
  • pack of cotton pads x 1
  • makeup bags – too much to detail but this was very little makeup for me.
  • hair dryer x 1
  • hair straightener x 1
  • 2 hairbrushes – 1 round, 1 flat
  • Snowboard or skiis!! If you have your own equipment already then bring it. You can always opt to buy out here but it might not be cheaper if you want to buy brand new. Many people don’t ski or snowboard before they arrive so opt for second hand while they’re still learning.

I’ve been here just over 3 months now and have only had to restock on shampoo which is awesome. Looking at this list I brought out so much stuff, but it did and has saved me so much money not having to go to the drugs stores here every time I need something. I’ll buy the odd thing here and there when I run out but generally if I’m near a dollar store I’ll stock up on extras anyway so it’s there for when I need it.

To give you an idea of how expensive the prices in Whistler are, for a small bottle of Tresemme is $4.99 and in the dollar store it’s $3 for a bottle twice the size. Yes that is my comparison, not rent, not food but shampoo.

I love you Dollar Store

Arriving in Vancouver

When arriving in Vancouver, you’ll probably spend a couple of days doing paperwork. In your first few days in the country you’ll want to get your SIN number, this can actually be done in Toronto right after getting your visa. If you’re connecting in Toronto like I did, I would recommend doing this as it will free up some of your time in Vancouver, meaning you can explore the city! Just remember that the offices that process the SIN numbers are only open on week days not weekends. I arrived on the Saturday so wasn’t able to get mine until the Monday. Just be conscious of this when booking flights and hostel nights.

The second thing you’ll want to do is get a bank account. Without this Whistler BlackComb can’t pay you. You can do this in Whistler if you want to, but it’s so much easier to just do on the same day as your SIN. When you arrive at Base II to sign in they’ll ask you for all these details including branch/transit number of your bank, so make sure you have this ready. Setting up a bank account was an easy process. Because I went through TWHC the particular branch I went to gave me zero fees for the first year (yes, they charge for bank accounts in North America!) and set me up with a savings account (which I’m getting a lot of use of) and a low limit credit card. I’m very happy to say that I’ve not had to use my credit card yet!

The last thing you might want to think about getting is a phone plan. I use my phone a lot. and I also knew I wouldn’t be able to deal with having to rely on wifi all the time. And I can FaceTime my family whenever I like. Many people don’t get phone plans and end up saving quite a bit of money because of it. But this does mean that you’ll have to rely on wifi all the time. Luckily almost everywhere in Whistler has wifi.

Visiting Nanaimo last month

Arriving in Whistler

Depending on whether you’re new to skiing/snowboarding or have been doing it for years, you might want to think about buying your gear over here. You might already have a board you love back home for example, it might be cheaper just to bring it with you, rather than buying a new one over here. If you intend to travel straight after doing the season here and aren’t returning/going home, you might want to think about picking up something here that you can re-sell.

If like me, you’ve never skied or snowboarded and are looking to do a season in Whistler, you have several options available for equipment. You can chance it and buy in Vancouver before making your way up to Whistler – I didn’t want to do this because I have no idea what I’m buying and I wanted to actually try it out before committing.

Buying ski/snowboard gear

  • Buy new with your brand new WB discount! – Not recommended by a lot of people just because it’s so expensive, especially for ski gear to purchase new. For example, my roommate bought new ski boots for around £700. JUST the boots! She works for snow school teaching lessons, so needs a good pair and it’s probably a good investment for her. But for me, I couldn’t justify spending an insane amount just for boots.
  • Buy second hand/used – This is probably the best option, especially for newbies (and possibly for experienced riders too) simply because everyone is always coming and going from Whistler. They come for the season, buy their equipment and then sell it once they leave. There are many Facebook groups selling boards/skis/boots/clothing so definitely check this out before anything else as you might find exactly what you’re looking for in a good condition for a much cheaper price.
  • WB clearance centre – this is in Squamish, about a 40 minute drive south approximately. But you’ll find that you’ll make at least one visit here, whether you have a friend that has a car or someone has posted a ride share there on one of the Facebook groups. Whistler Blackcomb has a clearance store in Squamish where you can buy all sorts for a discounted price, brand new!
  • The re-use it centre – This is located in Function Junction, I’ve never been here as of yet because I’ve heard it’s very hit and miss. Everything here is second hand/used but you can have days where lots of good stuff comes in or lots of bad stuff does. On the up side, this isn’t a 40 minute ride away, and you can get here by bus which takes approx 15/20 minutes.
  • Ex-rentals – this might be the option I’ll go for, simply because other people I know have done this and gotten good deals out of it. Nearly every shop in Whistler rents skis/snowboards and sometimes they’ll sell off their ex-rentals for a cheap price. Which isn’t too bad as sometimes they have skis that are still in good condition.
  • Staff sales – Every so often certain stores which have a staff sale, where all WB staff can take advantage of a bigger discount. Again, if you want to buy new this is a good option.
  • Renting – this is what I’ve been doing up to now. This is something I would only recommend once or twice. It’s going to burn a hole in your pocket. Even after the staff discount, this works out really pricey. The price does drop by about half after 11am but if you rent overtime you want to ride, you’ll have very few funds left.

Clothing

I have yet to purchase any skis – yes I know, it’s mid February already! I do, however have my helmet and goggles, and gloves. My roommate gets a pro discount at both Smith and Burton and was kind enough to let me use it. This worked out incredibly affordable.

I also managed to buy 2 ski coats and 1 pair of ski pants before arriving. I am so glad I did this because I saved so much money. My two coats are from Billabong and were originally £180 each. I bought the first one for £90 in the sales back in February last year and the second at an outlet for £50. My ski pants were from T K Maxx, for around £35/£40 approx.

Finding Jobs & Housing

I have no experience with finding housing, as this was all set up for me before I arrived. But I do know people who have been on the waiting list for staff housing for while, as people that have lived on the campsite as housing here is just so expensive. Finding housing is not a problem. Finding affordable housing however, is a huge problem! Most people don’t want to travel in, but obviously the further out you go the cheaper it’s going to be. Try to sort out your housing situation at the start of the season, or even before. And make sure you have enough $$ saved for all the deposits etc. The nice thing about Whistler Blackcomb staff housing is that the rent will come straight out of your paycheck, so you hardly notice it. All the money you get paid is then yours to spend (wisely)

Finding jobs on the other hand… is relatively easy. Everywhere is always looking. All the time. As people come and go so often here, there are always vacancies. I just started my new job at the Four Seasons, somewhere I never thought I’d be working. And the hiring process took one week and was very stress-free.

Apres at the GLC

What are the perks of working for Whistler Blackcomb?

Season Pass

You get a season pass! Probably one of the biggest perks for people who are keen snowboarders and skiers. Ski resorts are expensive enough so having this for the entire season is great.

Staff housing

Probably the biggest perk. Rent in Whistler is ridiculous. I’ve heard stories of people who pay $1000 just to sleep in a room with bunk beds and 4 people. Staff housing isn’t great but it’s probably your cheapest option and the Glacier complex is on the side of Backcomb mountain. Not going to lie, it’s awesome saying I live on a mountain. And with that I get to take a Gondola to work.

Discounts

Whistler Blackcomb owns most stores here, like the North Face, Can-Ski, Salamon etc. So it’s a great perk if you want to buy brand new equipment. Some people don’t think the discounts are that great but I managed to get 25% off a pair of sorel boots which I practically live in from the Can-ski store, and it’s better than nothing!

Free skiing and snowboarding lessons

This is a great perk for people like me who have never skied or snowboarded in their life. I can now change that and say I have skied! And I loved it. My instructors were fantastic, and very relaxed and patient. I’m happy to say that by the end of the day I was skiing relatively well and successfully dodging all the fallen over snowboarders. I still have yet to try out snowboarding but it’s going to happen. The season is not over yet.

The cons of working for Whistler Blackcomb?

Hourly Wage

The pay isn’t great. Since finding a second job I’ve come to realise that the biggest employer in this town is also the one that pays the least. Almost everyone I work with has a second job and they all pay more. A lot of places here do also offer housing, for example, the Fairmont Chateau and the Four Seasons but just like WB housing there’s not guarantee that you’ll get in there. Also they don’t offer the season pass or free lessons, which some people aren’t overly bothered about. You can always get a spirit pass instead.

Start Dates

They don’t give you an accurate start date. My start date was supposedly November 9th. But the mountain opened the 23rd November and that’s when we officially started work. So two weeks after they’d told us we’d start work. The two weeks previous were for training, most of which we did;t get paid for and was approx 18 hours total. I couldn’t afford my first two weeks rent due to this and the money you spend during this time is ridiculous.

Visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com for more info on the resort

Merlins Apres

Have fun!

The most important thing to remember when moving to a new country, whether it be Canada or elsewhere is to have fun! Whistler is a popular destination all year round. Some people only come for the winter season then go home. Others stay for the whole two years of their visa. I’ll be staying until July, and I’m excited to see what the summer brings! Waterfalls and hot springs? Yes please!

Have you ever thought of venturing over to Canada to do a working holiday?

I have news! And a new job!

I have news!

So January isn’t even over yet and 2017 has already topped 2016!

I have some awesome news to share, I got a new job! Well, two new jobs actually…

And I’m moving to Florida!!

Last week I received an email that I skimmed through from all the excitement, telling me I have been given a place on Disney’s Cultural Representative Program. Before reading the whole email, I was opening and reading the offer letter, and I skimmed over this and clicked yes. YES. YES. And again YES.

My start date is July 10th, which is a bit later than I’d requested but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’ve been working my ass off to get there. My plan is to stay in Canada up until I leave to go to Florida and hopefully, get my visa at the U.S consulate in Vancouver.

As for the second job, I just got hired by the Four Seasons Whistler, one of the best hotels here. It’s only a part time job doing their turn down service that I can do evenings after my job at Whistler Blackcomb. I’m pretty stoked about it though, it’s more per hour and I’m going to need all the money I can get.

Travel Plans

As for my trip to New York, I’ve had to cancel this which sucks. My Disney start date overlaps with my dates for New York. But also when I apply for my visa, I’ll have to surrender my passport, and there’s no guaranteed time that it’ll be back by, so I don’t want to risk it.

Instead, I have decided that I’m going to tour some of Canada instead. I may as well make the most of my time here while I can. My plans are to visit Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper and then onto Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal and Quebec. I’m hoping to do this within about 2 to 3 weeks. I was considering a tour through Trek America, and I may still do this as I think it’s a great way to meet new people. I have a friend who has expressed interest in coming with me, so we shall see.

My plans for Seattle are also on hold right now, as soon as we decided we’d go to Seattle about 4 people quit where I work, so now we’re understaffed and are unlikely to all get the day off anytime soon.

2016 in review and goals for 2017

2016 in review and goals for 2017

It’s two weeks late but, happy new year!

Every year I say it’s going to be my year, and 2015 was, then 2016 came along and although I had a few ups and downs it topped 2015 by far. I managed to do a bit of travelling, to new countries and cities.

In March, I spend a few days in Prague, which was amazing!

Highlights included:

Watching the astronomical clock

Walking across the Charles Bridge at night

Staring at the ceiling of the St. Vitus Cathedral

Eating Trdlnik, with ice cream!

In June I took a road trip north along California’s highway 1

I visited Pismo Beach

Hearst Castle

Big sur and it’s beautiful beaches

Watched the sunset on a beach in Carmel

Got to witness a family of wild Orcas off the Californian coast in Monterey

I started a new job in June, then went on to start a second job over at my local airport. Both which I loved.

In August I got to tick off one of my biggest bucket list hits. Paris!

It was an exhausting 4 days but I loved every minute of it. I did everything I really wanted to, even if I did fall asleep on the river cruise on my last day. The weather was beautiful for most of my trip and it gave me the inspiration to tick off another big hit on my bucket list next year. hint hint.

I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, witnessed it sparkle at night, which was just magical. Ate more crepes than I could handle. Walked through the hall of mirrors at Versailles. Imitated the hunchback of Notre Dame. And finally saw the famous Mona Lisa.

Birthday in Budapest

In October I ventured over to Budapest for four days and was lucky enough to spend my birthday there, soaking in the Szechenyi thermal baths.

Whilst in Budapest I got harassed by a violinist in a creepy park by the anonymous Statue. Yelling at me half in English, half in Hungarian, for being rude simply because I didn’t want to pay to have photo with his violin. I stood there in disbelief at my friend and had no words. After taking the photo I wanted. We walked off in the opposite direction. A strange moment, but one that we couldn’t stop laughing over.

We ended our trip by walking aka hiking to the top of Gellert hill to see the liberty statue. The views from here are amazing, and I would absolutely recommend doing this.

Budapest was an amazing city, one of my favourite places I’ve been to.

I ended the year by having an interview for my dream job and two days later I flew out to Canada. I’ve been living in Whistler for just over two months now. I’ve not had a whole bunch of time to blog because I’ve been working so much. Right now I’m stuck indoors sick, like the rest of staff housing. Boo!

The weeks leading up to Christmas were so busy at work, I got in lots of overtime however and today’s paycheque paid off! Christmas day itself was spent at work, I made cupcakes a few days prior for everyone as Christmas is my favourite time of year. I spread some Christmas cheer and gave the liftie on my gondola to work one.

New Years Eve was going to be spent at the bar next to where I work, instead I decided to spend it in creekside with someone special. And it was awesome, I’m not a big NYE person anyway but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way.

The past few weeks I’ve spent getting to grips with the world of snowmobiling and going for late night walks to Nita Lake.

Snowmobiling was fun! But in -15 degrees my fingers were about ready to fall off by the end of it. I watched the sunset over the mountains as the peaks turned pink. This view from Cougar Mountain never fails to amaze me.

I tend not to set myself too many goals each year, my only real goal for 2016 was to move to Canada, get an interview for my dream job, get the dream job (still waiting), and travel to new places. All of which I did!

I did want to do more travelling however, I was going to leave my job around October, spend 3/4 weeks backpacking Europe and then move to Canada. But I got offered a new job, which paid more and then decided I’d much rather keep working and save as much as I could. There is always this year!

My goals for 2017

I don’t have any real goals for 2017 but here are a few things I’d like to achieve:

Visit New York City

The place I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. It needs to be done, once and for all. Every year I say I’m going to do this and I never do. The price just always puts me off. Well this year I’m going to do it. No excuses. It’s not going to be cheap, hence putting my Canadian savings account into good use this week and finally watching what I spend my money on here in Whistler. I like to go out here but it’s not cheap to do. Last week I must have spent about $170 on just alcohol (and yes, I felt like shit the next day). That money could be put towards skiing equipment, so I can actually get good at it instead of spending $50 a time renting.

So I booked my hotel room for NYC already, for the beginning of July. My friend is going to come out and I’ll meet him in NYC from Whistler.

So, while I’m at it I may as well tick off some other things while I’m in the states. I’m a huge history nerd, and I find American history quite interesting. So, after New York I’ll be heading down to Philadelphia and then onto D.C.

This trip isn’t going to be cheap, I’ve booked hotels and not hostels, because my friend who will be travelling with me is far too stuck up for hostels and when I weighed up the costs of hostels V hotels we’d still be paying around the same price anyway.

To get better at Skiing!

Yes, I’m going to get up early and go out on the mountain on my days off more. I don’t do hangovers so well anymore now that I’m in my late 20’s. Yes, I might not always act my age but hangovers are a no go for me! Less drinking, more skiing! I will be good by the time the season ends!

To get a new/second job in Whistler

My main career goals are to get into Hospitality and/or Travel & Tourism. Whistler is a resort town with many world known resorts and hotels and I think this would be a great opportunity to further my skills and resume. My job at Whistler Backcomb will only last until mid-April at most when the season ends. They may keep me on over the summer, but there will be a break in between the winter and summer season. So I’d need another job at that point unless I decide to travel instead. At the moment I’m keeping my options open as I’ve done the two job thing before and I didn’t love it. Having two jobs here seems to be the thing most people do anyway, and I will definitely need the money.

Travel more

This year I want to travel a whole lot more than I did last year. There’s been brief discussion about going down to Cuba with a few people I work with, which would be super fun.

Seattle is not too far away, so maybe I could do a few days down there too.

Vancouver – I spent 3 days in Vancouver and saw very little of the city, due to getting boring paperwork done. I’d like to go back for a few days and really get to see what the city offers.

Travel through Canada

My goal for this year is to travel through Canada, from Vancouver right through to Niagara falls, Montreal, Quebec etc. I have signed up for my free National Parks Pass, which is free for the whole of 2017 to celebrate Canada turning 150!

To pick up your free 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass, visit here:

http://www.commandesparcs-parksorders.ca/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/parksb2c

I’m considering doing a 3 week tour through Trek America, rather than booking everything myself. I think this would be a great way to meet other travellers and I wouldn’t need to think about where to stay or which greyhound to get. I think this option might work out cheaper too.

Celebrate Canada day while in Canada

Canada day this year is July 1st, which is the day before I would be jetting off to New York. I didn’t know this at the time of booking my NYC trip, which is good timing or else I would have amended my booking.

And on Canada day I plan to have my photo taken with a mountie (RCMP) in their red uniform!

To see a wild bear

I didn’t get to see any bears before the season started, they are (mostly) sleeping now, so it is unlikely I’ll be able to see one until April time. But apart from eating maple syrup and having your photo done with a mountie is there anything more Canadian?

Spend the summer in Whistler

Whistler is beautiful in the summer, the lakes come to life and there are many different hiking trails. I want to visit Brandywine Falls, Joffre Lakes and do some stand up paddle boarding.

Start blogging more

When I first decided to start this blog I had so many ideas for blog posts and then I started working two jobs, I moved to Whistler and kind of lost my enthusiasm. I get it every so often here, but I think if I make it a regular thing it might help me in the long run to achieve goals, look back on what I’ve already achieved and be somewhere that I can look for inspiration and motivation. I’ve always found it hard to put myself out there, to let my personality come through, but this is one place I really want to express myself.

I’m also going to invest more time in this blog altogether, putting together a new theme, rather than using a pre-set. Setting up analytics, giving people a way to follow my blog, get used to using widgets and wordpress, have more of a social media presence.

Call my mum/family more

Since moving here, the time difference and work/play has made it somewhat difficult for me to call my family back home. But I really miss them, I miss my cat and I miss my friends. This year I’m going to try and call them at least once a week or more and update them on what’s going on in my life and what’s going on in theirs. Did I mention I miss my cat?

And my last goal of the year is,

To take better care of myself

I wouldn’t say that I haven’t taken care of myself, but compared to early last year and summer everything seems to have gone out the window. Since moving to Whistler, I’ve not had the best diet. The grocery stores here are expensive so naturally, to save money and time I’ve been eating out of a microwave. I also get free meals at work, which is great because it saves some $$. But our food is mostly breaded and deep fried. The good thing about working in the kitchen however, is that you can get a little bit more creative and make whatever you like. I’ve been trying to avoid the burgers and fries and instead having omelettes with veggies and a fruit cup.

I’d also like to get back into the gym, even if I just do 30 minutes every other day in the free gym at WB housing. There is free yoga on Tuesdays and Sundays that I’d like to take advantage of too. Or even if I just go for a walk somewhere every now and then. I want to take better care of both my physical and mental health.

So here’s to an even more amazing year!

My first month living in Whistler, Canada

I’ve been in Canada for about 5 weeks now, and it’s gone by so quickly. I’m finding it hard to believe that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away and 2017 is not long after that. Where did the time go? Seems like only yesterday I was counting down the days until I moved here. But I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

I still can’t believe I did it, that I’m here currently; blogging from my bedroom in Whistler and it feels so natural. It’s taken me a while to actually settle though, I mean mentally. I’ve been homesick since being here though it may not seem like it. But things are slowly coming together as I knew they would, they always do.

I left for Canada on the 6th November 2016, arrived in Toronto around 8 hours later. Naturally the first thing I did was head to Tim Horton’s. If there’s one way to welcome myself to Canada, this would be it.

After more than the scheduled 2 hour stopover (thanks west jet!), I boarded my second flight to Vancouver and arrived at my hostel at around 10:30pm ready to fall asleep. I only had 2 nights in Vancouver because I needed to be in Whistler for the 9th.

Hostel Life

I finally stayed in a hostel! Yes, at the ripe old age of 27 I finally got a taste of hostel life. Was it what I’d expected? Yes, actually. The showers were just as dingey as I’d imagined. (Thank god for flip-flops eh) But that’s okay; I’d quite happily stay in one again. It was nice to meet like-minded travellers, who also came here by themselves.

My only real day in Vancouver was spent getting my SIN, bank account and phone contract. I spent $120 on makeup in Sephora that I obviously needed. And then got asked out by the guy in Virgin Mobile, who then proceeded to text me later in the day from his own phone using the excuse that he got the contract pricing wrong. I just laughed and never text him back. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal (hence not naming names here). The next day I boarded my greyhound to Whistler.

So, did I reach my savings goal? Did I go with a backpack or a suitcase? I’m pleased to say that I did indeed make my savings goal, and within the first week of being here I’d spent so much, mostly on going out, getting shitfaced, and buying the bare minimum in groceries. My fridge literally had 6 eggs and a block of butter in for the first week. Whistler sure is expensive.

After a few days of hangovers I decided I’d been welcomed to this party town fairly well and decided to start saving my cash. I’d need it over the next few weeks before the mountain officially opened and I started working. I know I said Whistler would be like a vacation for me, and so far it has been but I also like money and I also like stuff. Specifically buying stuff. Spending stuff. You know.

Backpack or Suitcase?

As for the backpack or suitcase, I went with suitcase. I was kidding myself thinking I could A) pack light and B) fit all of my things into a backpack. If I had been going backpacking instead of moving and working in a new country then the suitcase would have definitely stayed at home. Even my hand luggage was full to the brim. Going through Toronto airport with 3 overweight bags was not fun. I was one big sweaty mess. I knew Whistler was going to be expensive. So I packed multiples of everything to hopefully last me at least 3 months, the typical toiletries and a myriad of makeup products.

In other news I took my first skiing lesson! I had a blast. I never thought I’d pick up skiing that quickly in my first lesson. My instructors were awesome and the other people in my little group were great too. I’ve not had time to take my second lesson yet as work is busy and I’ve had last minute shifts. I’m in need of money more than I am learning to ski right now. Once Christmas is gone I’ll be back learning.

This place is truly amazing. I live on the side of a mountain! Never in my life did I think I’d be catching a gondola to work. There are moments when I’m on the gondola home and I get to stare out the window at the beautiful Fairmont Chateau lit up at night.

My first month has been an interesting one. I’m looking forward to Christmas and what the next month brings

Welcome to “From Adventure With Love”

Hello! Welcome to my very first blog post! I had no idea what to actually write here or how to start this blog, so I’ll just give some background about me and why I started this blog.

My name is Rachael and I’m currently 26. I know most young people go travelling at an earlier age but it’s something I’ve toyed with for a while and finally decided life was too short not to. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t travelled at all. When I was 21 I took my first flight/trip abroad by myself and worked in the United States for 3 months. Since then I’ve taken solo flights by myself more times than I can remember. And although I was so scared the first time there was something quite nice about going alone.

Right now I’m saving as much as I can before I finally jet off in a couple of months time. I have just accepted a job from Whistler Backcomb ski resort in British Columbia, Canada. This will be a completely new experience for me. I’ll finally see a country that’s been on my bucket list for a while. I will also have time to really get to experience everything Canadian as I’ll be there for a minimum of 6 months.

Travel is something that I’ve always been interested in. I took my first plane journey when I was 9 months old and many more after that. Other countries and cultures have always fascinated me, not to mention I’m a history geek. There is just something so fulfilling about seeing beautiful sights, monuments and landscapes with your own eyes.

So far I have visited 9 countries, including my own. And I’ve been to 6 US states (stopovers in Minneapolis, Dallas, Philadelphia and Charlotte don’t count!)

Over the past year I’ve been lucky enough to gaze at the ceiling of the sistine chapel, get whipped by Krampus in Germany, watch the sunset from the Eiffel tower, take a river cruise through the Amsterdam canals, walk across the Charles Bridge and witness a family of wild Orca off the Californian coast. Travelling isn’t about ticking off countries or seeing who can see the most but about the memories you make.

This blog will be a documentation of where I’ve been, where I’m going and to share my stories and tips with others.

I am nervous, and very excited about starting my new journey and will experience lots of things for the first time, like staying in a hostel!