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Jill Von Sprecken

Whale Tale

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

A killer whale breaching. (Photo: ©schaef/Fotolia.com)

A breaching killer whale. (Photo: ©schaef/Fotolia.com)

What’s wet and wild on the West Coast? Whales, of course. These denizens of the deep are one of the area’s biggest attractions—and with good reason. Dressed in striking black and white, orcas make a splash for onlookers by breaching (pictured), lob-tailing (slapping tail flukes) and spy-hopping (rising out of the water like a periscope). The playful cetaceans are the largest member of the dolphin family, sometimes weighing in over six tons, yet they propel their powerful bodies through the water with grace. For a chance to see killer whales feed, frolic and ultimately charm visitors, book a tour with one of the many local whale watching companies.

Chic Picnic: Dîner en Blanc

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Elegant Dîner en Blanc in David Lam Park

Elegant Dîner en Blanc in David Lam Park

Picnic basket—check. Nearly 4,500 of your closest friends—check. All-white attire—check. Every year, elegant Dîner en Blanc (Aug. 25) draws thousands of alfresco diners for a very posh picnic. The event was launched 27 years ago in Paris, and is now hosted in over 60 cities worldwide. Strict rules add a certain je ne sais quois: all attire must be white; tables, chairs and accoutrements are toted in by participants; and the secret location is revealed just prior to dinner. This must-see event is so popular, tickets are snapped up weeks before. It’s a sight to behold—and to check off your bucket list.

Urban Art: From Forest to Furniture

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

(Photo: KK Law)

“Public Furniture | Urban Trees – Vancouver” by Hugo França. (Photo: KK Law)

Hugo França is no stranger to second chances. For 20 years, the Brazilian artist has transformed cast-off trees into magnificent furnishings and works of art. Knotted, gnarled and cracked, these elegant pieces highlight the beauty of the wood’s natural shape. Local species such as Douglas fir mark França’s transition from tropical to temperate rainforest—his work for the Vancouver Biennale marks the artist’s first attempt at sculpting trees native to the West Coast. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Spanish Banks beach, “Public Furniture | Urban Trees – Vancouver” is perfect for lounging, climbing or just plain admiring. Talk about turning over a new leaf.

Sun, Surf and Speed

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Cruise Vancouver's waterways on one of Sea Vancouver's open-air Zodiac

Cruise Vancouver’s waterways on one of Sea Vancouver’s open-air Zodiacs

Soak up the scenery—and the saltwater spray—as you zip around Vancouver’s waters with Sea Vancouver. The open-air Zodiacs offer up seal’s-eye views of Coal Harbour, the Lions Gate Bridge and Stanley Park before heading into False Creek for a water-bound tour around Granville Island and English Bay. The skipper shares fascinating facts about the city, while stunning views keep camera shutters snapping. Time flies when you’re having fun, but the memories last long after docking on dry land.

Vancouver Queer Film Festival

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Documentary In the Turn

Documentary In the Turn

Inspiring, reflective and just plain fabulous, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival takes over city theatres Aug. 13 to 23. Western Canada’s largest queer event, and Vancouver’s second-largest film festival, fêtes its 27th year with performances, panels, workshops and, of course, captivating cinema. From animated to experimental, the over 80 movies from 20 countries have one thing in common: LGBTQ folks are firmly in the spotlight. Catch all the action, including documentary In the Turn (pictured).

Come Fly With Me

Go ahead, take off into the blue. The air may be rarefied, but stunning views certainly aren’t in short supply

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

(Photo: KK Law)

From this vantage point, the city stretches out before you. (Photo: KK Law)

Mountains, shorelines and city skylines keep Vancouver looking sharp. But from on high, when everything is laid out at once, the vista is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Harbour Air’s aptly named Panorama Tour takes high-flyers on the wing for a vantage point that only a camera can properly describe. (more…)

Fresh-Air Fare: Araxi’s Longtable Dinner

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Araxi's Longtable Dinner Series at Pemberton's scenic North Arm Farm. (Photo: Toshi Kawano)

Araxi’s Longtable Dinner Series at Pemberton’s scenic North Arm Farm. (Photo: Toshi Kawano)

When it comes to alfresco dining, Whistler’s celebrated Araxi ups the ante. At the Longtable Dinner Series, chef James Walt’s elegant farm-to-fork fare is served in a spectacular outdoor setting. In Vancouver (Aug. 3), 250 guests indulge in the hyper-local, four-course meal set in picturesque Vanier Park with guest chefs from local eateries, including CinCin and Thierry. On Sep. 5, Pemberton’s North Arm Farm will stage a repeat performance, with dramatic Mount Currie as a backdrop.

Adventure in Relaxation

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Ayurvedic Podikkizhi massage. (Photo: Ayurvedic Podikkizhi)

Ayurvedic Podikkizhi massage. (Photo: Ayurvedic Podikkizhi)

In truth, no daring is required to enjoy CHI, The Spa’s Sense of Adventure massages. Inspired by Shangri-La spas across Asia, signature treatments from Thailand, India, China and the Philippines transport visitors to exotic locales. Try the Wushu Massage, inspired by Chinese martial arts, to relieve stress and toxins. Or the Ayurvedic Podikkizhi Massage from India, with its coconut-stem compresses and aromatic oils that ease tension and lightly exfoliate skin (pictured). It’s an adventure in relaxation, all wrapped up in a terry-towel robe.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola’s Record-Breaking Ride

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola. (Photo: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler)

The record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola. (Photo: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler)

The greatest mountain range (Himalayas) and the flattest country (Maldives) have something in common with the Peak 2 Peak Gondola: they’re all record-breaking. In the 2015 edition of Guinness World Records, the engineering marvel claimed fame as the “highest cable car above ground” and for the “longest unsupported span between two cable car towers.” Gondola cars hang 436 m (1,427 ft) above the valley floor, suspended by towers 3 km (1.8 mi) apart. It all adds up to one unbeatable ride.

Bill Reid Gallery: Bold and Beautiful

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Hamatsa mask, at Bill Reid Gallery. (Photo: Jill Von Sprecken)

Hamatsa mask, at Bill Reid Gallery. (Photo: Jill Von Sprecken)

Come face-to-face with an astonishing cast of characters at The Box of Treasures: Gifts From the Supernatural. The masks and regalia on display are made by master carvers, including Kwakwaka’wakw artist and chief Beau Dick. The eye-catching creations have a short lifespan—they’re worn in dances four times, then burned to send them back to the spirit world. Meet these masterpieces at Bill Reid Gallery, to Sep. 27.

Get the Scoop

When temperatures rise, Vancouverites chill out with the frozen treat that’s synonymous with summer

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Soft Peaks offers an array of toppings for their delicious soft serve

An array of toppings adorn the delicious soft serve at Soft Peaks

SOFT PEAKS
The greatest testament to Soft Peaks’ popularity may be the lengthy line-ups when the shop first opened—in February. Frozen-treat purveyors (and brothers) Dan and Ken Kim introduced soft serve to Gastown, but added an artisanal twist. Organic Avalon milk is churned into creamy, slightly sweet swirls, and finished with an array of toppings: local honeycomb is a favourite, but the more adventurous opt for matcha powder, Himalayan pink salt or yuzu marmalade, for an indulgent grown-up sundae. (more…)

Top Timepieces: Global Watch Co.

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The Longines shop-in-shop at Global Watch Co.

The Longines shop-in-shop at Global Watch Company

A trove of treasured timepieces can be found at Global Watch Company, a boutique devoted to haute horology and fine diamond jewellery. The swish space is home to three unique shop-in-shops, including 165-year-old German watchmaker Glashütte Original—one of the few showrooms to carry the brand in BC. Rounding out the collection: a range of sophisticated sparklers, some featuring rare coloured diamonds. Adore adornment? Then this venue is a must-visit.