Meet Duni | Our Vancouver Curator

Tell us about yourself

Hi, my name is Edurne (@pinguino.travels + @dunitah) and I am originally from Spain, from the Basque region (hence, my uncommon Basque name, which means snow!) but I have lived in Vancouver, Canada since 2013. Before moving to Vancouver I studied in Toronto for 6 months and after graduating from university, I decided to explore the west coast. Fast forward, I am still in Vancouver!

What is your favorite coffee shop where you live? 

If I had to pick just one coffee shop in Vancouver, it would have to be Breka Bakery. They have the most delicious cheesecake, and a white mocha that is just perfect. Plus, it is open 24 hours! 

What is your favorite bar where you live? 

Score on Davie St. Patio for the sunny days, inside for rainy days. The atmosphere is great! And they have a great selection of both drinks and food. It is also very close to clubs, just in case you get an instant party rush.

What is your favorite restaurant where you live? 

At the moment, Jinya Ramen is my favourite. When the weather is cold outside, all I need is a good bowl of ramen to cheer me up! They also offer a few other small plates that are delicious.

If you could travel to any US city right now where would it be? 

New York! Believe it or not, I still have not visited this city.

If you could travel to any country right now where would it be? 

Iceland, without a doubt. I am in love with their nature, and the idea of going on a road trip visiting all those stunning landscapes.

 

Welcome, Vancouver

Vancouver.JPG

Considered one of the most livable cities in the world, Vancouver is a modern glass cityscape surrounded by the great Pacific Northwest mountains. Where else can you go hiking in the forest, walking on the beach and shopping in high-end boutiques, all in the same day?

Vancouver is one of the mildest cities in Canada, and has 4 distinct seasons:

- Winter is great for those that love skiing. While it is rare to see snow in the city, there are 3 local ski resorts just 30 minutes from downtown. The iconic Whistler Village from the 2010 Winter Olympics is not much further away - just 1h30min away.

- All the cherry blossoms make Vancouver even more beautiful during spring. Days start to get longer and warmer, which is the perfect combination to explore the distinct and unique neighbourhoods. Did you also know that Stanley Park is actually bigger than Central Park in NYC?

- During the Summer, Vancouver enjoys a pleasant 22C (71F) average temperature, and the city boasts tons of different street festivals, night markets and events that you do not want to miss!

- The intense fall colours make the city stand out during the rainy season. This is the best time to explore the trendy shops and numerous local restaurants, or maybe go storm chasing on the Island!

by Duni Bayona
@Pinguino.travels + @dunitah

Meet Rebecca | Our Edinburgh Curator

Hey! I’m Becca (@beca_87 / @girl.intransit) and I’m a very new freelance travel writer from a little seaside town on the West Coast of Scotland. I’m currently travelling and have made a base for the next few months in Captain Cook on the Big Island of Hawaii, where I am working on a coffee, nut and fruit farm. 

1. What is your favourite coffee shop in Edinburgh?

A little coffee shop in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh called Project Coffee. The coffee and the incredible scones aside, I fell in love with this place as it was the first (and subsequently last) place I had coffee in Edinburgh. Many friend dates, pre/mid/post-lecture-caffeine-fuels and heartfelt family catch-ups were had there over the years. 

2. What is your favourite bar in Edinburgh?

Oh, that’s tough! Edinburgh has a real variety of bars and pubs for whatever you’re feeling. One of my favourites which really encapsulates Edinburgh is Banshee’s Labyrinth. It’s a dive bar set in a maze of ancient caves and tunnels. You go for the atmosphere as much as the cheap pints. There is a cinema room and performance spaces further underground. It is really unique and spooky. 

3. What is your favourite resturant in Edinburgh?

Again - tough, Edinburgh has so many good places to eat. There is a tiny Mexican cantina called El Cartel that is super authentic and serves some amazing fresh fish tacos that make you feel like you are somewhere sunny and beautiful. 

4. If you could travel to any US city right now where would it be?

I really want to go back to NYC! I visited when I was younger but I’d love to see it again with older eyes. I love her history and am obsessed with any representations of the city from the 20s to 70s. Somewhere I haven’t been and really want to see is Texas - no city in particular, just alll of Texas. It is fabled as being ‘THE America!’ and I want to see for myself. 

5. If you could travel to any country right now where would it be?

India, for sure. The vibrancy of the culture seems intoxicating! I studied a lot of colonial literature at university and I would fully immerse myself and understand the intricacies of it all. Not to mention the food...

From Cowboy Boots to Bagpipes

On my travels, I have taken to telling people I am from Edinburgh. It's not necessarily true by heritage standards (my ancestral lineage is English and Welsh) or even place of birth standards (the Scottish west coast) but it is the city which shifted and shaped me into the person I am today.

There is an almost universally positive response to the sheer mention of the city. There is so often a sense of wonder that spreads across people's faces which opens a long, mystical avenue of conversation. And it is not really hard to understand why.

Layers upon layers of history are mapped within her infrastructure - you only need to take a stroll from the Royal Mile, down the marble Waverley Steps and you've transcended centuries of history. Take it slowly and forgo the pocket map – Edinburgh’s geography begs to be discovered on an amble that is not locked into a forward motion, but sidesteps into hidden closes and backtracks to climb up some curious steps or down into another world.

Edinburgh is often hastily categorized as a somewhat whimsical ancient city, a curious glimpse through a looking glass into another time. While it is certainly not untrue, to say this and this alone is to belie the fact that she remains a thriving thoroughfare. She continues forward, integrating her past with her present and her future.

Edinburgh’s bars, restaurants and galleries, in both sections of the city, rival those in her metropolitan counterparts, but with the added mystique of being set within hundreds of years of rich, enigmatic history. The once abandoned warehouses, dockyards, caves and caverns of Edinburgh now host contemporary enterprise, adapting to the current trends of modernity with notably gin distilleries, microbreweries and artisan coffee houses, also spaces of art and theatre.

The entire city sits under the watchful eye of Edinburgh castle, which sits proudly upon its volcanic throne. While parts of the castle still function as active military barracks, it is open to visitors and continues to be a must visit destination for international tourists and Scots alike.

With its swooping cobbled roads, the Grassmarket is one of the best areas of town for a great night out, offering underground music venues with local artists and DJs offering a taste of the talent that this city nurtures. It also hosts some of the better independent shopping in the city, on Victoria Street. Arguably one of Edinburgh’s most picturesque vistas this street is a row of boutiques and restaurants with colourful facades which, despite their prominent location, are not establishments with low quality, overpriced goods, that serve to lure unsuspecting tourists into their depths. Instead, these bright, welcoming spaces offer quality Scottish-made goods to flocks of locals and tourists alike.

Each street in Edinburgh leads off to another, offering more paths to take with each one imploring you to discover its gold. In this regard, navigating Edinburgh by foot can quickly become disorientating, like Alice traversing wonderland. Yet, it is never overwhelming. With each twist and turn, each ascent or descent through her layers, Edinburgh offers a sense of calm – of feeling like you have just reached the warm comfort of home.

by Rebecca Hughes (@beca_87)