Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours

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During a trip to Vancouver we found ourselves with a day with nothing planned. To fill that day we researched what day trips we could do from Vancouver. We took a look at the map of British Columbia and one city jumped out at us, the iconic ski resort of Whistler. Even though our visit was during the springtime, we knew we still wanted to travel to Whistler.

We didn’t have a rental car and had to explore other options for reaching Whistler. It was our understanding that a train ride in Canada is a great way to see the country’s landscape. As appealing as that sounded a train from Vancouver takes an entire day to reach Whistler and we’d have to spend the night in Whistler. To keep the visit to one day we had only one practical choice, riding a bus service to our destination.

Gray Line Tour Bus - British Columbia, Canada

Gray Line Tour Bus

Gray Line Tours

A few companies offer direct bus service between Vancouver and Whistler but we opted for the tour company Gray Line. Gray Line has a 10-hour tour with stops at Whistler and Shannon Falls. We’d used Gray Line before in other parts of the world and knew how reputable a company they are. By choosing Gray Line we knew we’d have the opportunity to stop at other places besides Whistler and be escorted by a knowledgeable guide.

On the day of our excursion the Gray Line bus arrived at our hotel in the morning. Our driver/tour guide for the day was Jack, a Canadian who’d lived in Vancouver his entire life. After we got on the Gray Line bus Jack continued on to pick up the other tour travelers from their respective hotels. With everyone on board Jack made his way through Downtown Vancouver. Along the way Jack pointed out sights and added historical commentary related to the various regions we passed. At this point in our trip we’d been in Vancouver a few days. The insights provided by Jack added clarity and perspective to the sights and districts we’d seen and visited on the days prior. Once out of Downtown Vancouver the bus made its way to Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, and the main road to Whistler.

Porteau Cove - British Columbia, Canada

Porteau Cove

Howe Sound - Porteau Cove Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

View of Howe Sound from Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Sea to Sky Highway 99

With traffic being light the morning of our tour our driver/tour guide Jack made extra stops along the way to Whistler. These stops were a pleasant surprise since they did not appear on the original itinerary. The first of these stops was Porteau Cove, a provincial marine park. At Porteau Cove locals can camp by the waterfront or launch boats from the dock. Visitors to Porteau Cove see stunning views of Howe Sound, crystal blue water, and towering green trees.   Those lucky enough to visit Porteau Cove after dark can stargaze on cloudless nights. They might even have the chance at viewing the Aurora Borealis during the right parts of the year.

After Porteau Cove we made our way to our first official itinerary stop, the Squamish Adventure Centre. Those traveling through this region with a rental car will want to stop at the Squamish Adventure Centre. The Visitor Centre has information, brochures, and a booking desk for those looking to partake in outdoor activities. Those interested in the history of the First Nations, Canada’s indigenous people, will find informational exhibits throughout the Centre. In addition, the Squamish Adventure Centre has restrooms, a cafe, and a gift shop.

Squamish Adventure Centre - Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

Squamish Adventure Centre

Alexander Falls - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Alexander Falls

Whistler Olympic Park and Alexander Falls

With time still in our favor from the lack of traffic we made an unscheduled detour up a road that leads to the Whistler Olympic Park. The Olympic Park was the location for many of the athletic events for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Close to Olympic Park is a waterfall called Alexander Falls. Our bus parked in a gravel lot with access to a viewing platform. Without having to hike we walked to the platform and had a direct view of the waterfall.

As we walked back to the Gray Line bus one of our travel mates pointed out something the rest of us had missed. In a grove of trees a good distance from the parking lot the tops of massive trees were swaying even though there was no breeze. Our eagle-eyed companion had spotted a black bear and her cub that had climbed up to the top of the tree. Although the bears were a good distance from the bus, we could still see them well enough from our location. To see bears in their natural habitat awed the bus full of city folks and we knew we’d gotten more than our money’s worth for this tour.

Whistler Village - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Village

Hunter’s Bowl at Stonesedge Kitchen - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Hunter’s Bowl at Stonesedge Kitchen

Roast Duck Mac N Cheese at Stonesedge Kitchen - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Roast Duck Mac N Cheese at Stonesedge Kitchen

Whistler Village

From Alexander Falls the Gray Line bus made its way to Whistler Village. The sprawling pedestrian avenues of Whistler Village beckoned us with its stores and restaurants. We’d arrived in Whistler Village at noon and had three hours to ourselves to explore Whistler. Our first order of business was lunch and for that we went to Stonesedge Kitchen. This restaurant prides itself in serving “comfort food” and it did not disappoint. We ordered the Hunter’s Bowl and the Roast Duck Mac N Cheese. The Hunter’s Bowl has venison with rigatoni, mixed in a tomato cream sauce. Besides the dishes we ordered two beers from a local brewery, Whistler Brewing Company. We had the Bear Paw Honey Lager and the Whiskey Jack Ale. The beers paired great with our dishes and we left Stonesedge Kitchen satisfied, renewed, and ready to tackle Whistler Village.

Walk around Whistler Village and you can’t help being smitten with the quaint and charming buildings. Even in springtime the chalet architecture gives you the sense you are in a snowy wonderland. You might think that Whistler Village in the springtime is a ghost town. It turns out the opposite is true as every store and restaurant was open for business with plenty of vacationing folks walking the pedestrian pathways. Even the ski lifts were operational, allowing visitors the chance to reach the top of the mountains for gorgeous views. Plus in the springtime there may still be snow on the top of the mountains and even limited skiing available.

Ski lifts at Whistler Village - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Ski lifts at Whistler Village

Rebagliati Park - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Rebagliati Park

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Throughout Whistler Village walkways connect the various hotel properties. These non-strenuous walks take you by roaring streams and tall trees such as those found in Rebagliati Park. Around the various hotels you will find more shops and restaurants. First-time visitors will want to see the Whistler Olympic Plaza. The original use for this location was for the medal ceremonies during the Whistler Olympics. Now people come to Olympic Plaza for concerts, to hangout, relax, and soak in the surrounding views of nature. The Olympic Plaza is home to the Olympic Rings, a perfect photo spot. Near the Olympic Rings are plaques listing each of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games medalists.

Whistler Olympic Plaza - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Whistler Olympic Rings - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Olympic Rings

Shannon Falls

After an afternoon in Whistler Village we boarded the Gray Line bus and began the ride back to Vancouver. Along the way, again on the Sea to Sky Highway, we stopped at a scenic viewpoint. Here we had panoramic views of snow-capped mountain ranges and fields of green trees. From the viewpoint the bus took us to the last of the scheduled itinerary stops, Shannon Falls. A short walk from the parking lot led us to a viewing platform where we could gaze at the waterfall. We were fortunate that we undertook this tour in the springtime. The recent winter’s snow had melted off the surrounding mountains. That was why the waterfalls, rivers, and creeks we’d encountered during the day’s trips were full of rushing water. Shannon Falls was no exception, and magnificent to view.

Sea to Sky Highway 99 Viewpoint - British Columbia, Canada

Viewpoint along the Sea to Sky Highway 99

Shannon Falls - British Columbia, Canada

Shannon Falls

From Shannon Falls our driver/tour guide Jack drove us back to Vancouver. Along the way he made one last diversion through West Vancouver, offering us views of local neighborhoods and the skyline of Downtown Vancouver. From West Vancouver Jack deposited travelers back to their respective hotels. Everyone one of us left the tour bus with smiles on our faces. Each of these added stops and detours made our trip to Whistler extra special. On a direct bus we’d have seen just Downtown Vancouver and Whistler Village. If you plan on visiting Vancouver and have a day with nothing planned we recommend you explore Whistler with Gray Line Tours.

View of the skyline of Downtown Vancouver from West Vancouver - Vancouver; British Columbia, Canada

View of the skyline of Downtown Vancouver from West Vancouver

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Gray Line Tours - From Vancouver to Whistler

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Porteau Cove Provincial Park: 49.557121, -123.236311
Squamish Adventure Centre: 49.707029, -123.145871
Whistler Olympic Park: 50.139143, -123.113705
Alexander Falls: 50.135199, -123.127904
Whistler Village: 50.115743, -122.956334
Stonesedge Kitchen: 50.114190, -122.956994
Rebagliati Park: 50.115830, -122.950342
Whistler Olympic Plaza: 50.118817, -122.954993
Shannon Falls: 49.669969, -123.156460
West Vancouver: 49.334897, -123.166785
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Porteau Cove Provincial Park, Squamish-Lillooet D, BC, Canada
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Squamish Adventure Centre
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Squamish Adventure Centre, Loggers Lane, Squamish, BC, Canada
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Whistler Olympic Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Road, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Alexander Falls
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Alexander Falls, Squamish-Lillooet D, British Columbia, Canada
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Whistler Village
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Village, BC, Gate Way Drive, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Stonesedge Kitchen
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Rebagliati Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Rebagliati Park, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Whistler Olympic Plaza
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Olympic Plaza, Village Stroll, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Shannon Falls
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Shannon Falls, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
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West Vancouver
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
West Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Vancouver’s Granville Island

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Granville Island in Vancouver is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Set along the waters of False Creek, Granville Island offers visitors scenic views. Spend the day shopping or eating at the various stalls within the Public Market or in the surrounding buildings. Unwind while perusing galleries or drinking beer at the Granville Island Brewery. Enjoy the waterfront while strolling along nearby Island Park Walk. Granville Island has so much to offer that tourists will find it one of the top highlights of their trip.

Getting to Granville Island

Tourists planning to visit Granville Island will arrive either by car, bus, or boat. Granville Island is accessible by car but you will be fighting with other drivers for the few parking spots available. The better plan is to arrive at Granville Island by bus or by boat. To get from Downtown to Granville Island you will board the #50 bus. The route for bus #50 runs through various Vancouver districts. Visitors staying in and around Gastown, Chinatown, Downtown, or Yaletown will take bus #50 southbound. Hop on the #50 bus labeled False Creek via Granville Island and exit at the W 2 Ave at Anderson Street stop. From the bus stop it will be a four-minute stroll to Granville Island via Old Bridge Walk.

A unique way to reach Granville Island is via boat on the waters of False Creek. Two boat companies sail along False Creek, Aquabus and False Creek Ferry. Both boat companies have eight docking locations along the waters of False Creek. You can catch one of the boats in popular tourist locations such as Yaletown or near BC Place at the Plaza of Nations. Boats land at each of the docks every 15 minutes so you won’t have to wait very long to catch the next boat. The simplest thing to do is arrive at the dock and hop on to whichever boat company arrives first.

Once on board you’ll pay the driver the fare to ride the boat. The boats hold between twelve and twenty passengers at a time. Passengers sit on benches next to windows so everyone has a view during the ride. The boats sail quietly along the waters of False Creek and offer a relaxing journey while sailing past the buildings of Vancouver. Exit the boat at the Granville Island dock. From the dock you are steps away from the main building for the Granville Island Public Market.

Granville Island Public Market

The most popular place to visit on Granville Island is the Public Market. Inside this building you will find a vast array of vendors. You can buy baskets of various fruits or bouquets of flowers. Other vendors sell pastries and bread still warm from the oven. Locals decide between fresh pasta and ravioli to bring home to cook later. It’s easy to check off your grocery list at the Public Market.

A few vendors at the Public Market sell food products you can eat on site. Lee’s Donuts is a must for those with an inclination towards fried dough. The Honey Dip Donut is a popular choice and tastes delicious. Enjoy your food with a cup of coffee from either JJ Bean or Petit Ami. If you are in the mood for more pastries and heartier fare stop at Laurelle’s Fine Foods. Laurelle’s is a bakery deli that sells meat pies and muffins. The dough on the meat pies flake right off and melt in your mouth.

Next to the Public Market are more buildings full of shops, galleries, and other food options. Those who wish to sample a local beer will want to swing by Granville Island Brewing. To maximize your tasting opportunity order a flight which allows you to sample up to four different beers. The Island Lager is their original beer and a fan favorite. For a true Canadian experience be sure to sample the Maple Shack Cream Ale. In addition to beer Granville Island Brewing offers a food menu with dishes such as poutine.

Island Park Walk

After you’re finished with Granville Island head to nearby Island Park Walk. This path just on the other side of Granville Island offers views of Granville Island plus residential homes and boats docked at the harbor. The path is especially stunning in the fall time when the leaves have changed colors. Here along the path visitors can dream of living next to Granville Island. Imagine waking up on a weekend morning and heading over to pick up items for brunch at the Public Market.

If daydreaming leaves you famished, at the end of Island Park Walk you will find Go Fish. This popular eatery sells quality seafood dishes from a simple shack. For fried golden perfection order the classic fish and chips. Or try the fish sandwich with either seared ahi tuna or salmon. Afterwards take Island Park Walk back the way you came towards either the #50 bus or to the Ferry Creek docks to catch the next boat home.

 

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Granville Island

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Granville Island 49.270622, -123.134741 Overview of Vancouver, Canada and Vancouver’s Granville Island

 

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Vancouver Dining

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Vancouver dining reflects the diversity that embodies the city. Within the various neighborhoods that make up Vancouver visitors will find every cuisine imaginable. This article aims to help travelers in choosing which restaurants to visit. Listed below are six of the best eateries in Vancouver. Each of these Vancouver dining options in this article embodies a different eating experience. From fine dining to food trucks, no one will ever leave Vancouver hungry.

Blue Water Cafe – Fine Dining in Vancouver

Being next to the Pacific Ocean means any Vancouver dining list must include at least one restaurant that serves high quality seafood. For the freshest seafood and a fine dining experience look no further than Blue Water Cafe. Here you will experience top-notch service from a knowledgeable wait staff. The menu includes a plethora of seafood caught in local waters. The chefs create each dish with extreme care. These chefs understand that eating is more than sustenance. For those that enjoy oysters Blue Water Cafe’s extensive menu won’t disappoint. The seafood tasting for two is a perfect way to sample four different seafood dishes. Although not a traditional Japanese restaurant, the sushi rolls and sashimi are delicious. The main course seafood selections range from scallops to lobster to local fish such as the sablefish. Other than seafood Blue Water Cafe’s menu includes steak and chicken options.

Chatime – For When You Need a Drink Break

Walk the many streets of Vancouver and you’re bound to get thirsty. When it’s time for a drink break stop by one of Chatime’s two Vancouver locations. Chatime proclaims itself as being the world’s number one place to get bubble tea. Although the title for world’s number one is always up for debate, Chatime is in the discussion for a good reason. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan and is a tea based drink served with milk and either tapioca balls or fruit jellies. Chatime brews their tea fresh in store and that freshness is found in every sip you take. Natural ingredients and natural flavors combine to make sure that your drink will be delicious. Besides Vancouver Chatime has a store in the nearby cities of Richmond, Burnaby, and Surrey. Other than Canada, Chatime is available in ten other countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, and the United States.

Dinesty Dumpling House – A Chinese Restaurant Beyond Chinatown

To search for a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown is akin to searching for hay in a haystack. The trick is finding a good Chinese restaurant in parts of the city not designated a part of Chinatown. When the craving for Chinese food hits you and you’re on Vancouver’s busy Robson street head to Dinesty Dumpling House. Dinesty specializes in Shanghai style Chinese dishes. One of the more popular dishes is their Xiao Long Bao, dumplings filled with soup and meat. Diners can watch employees of Dinesty through large glass windows as they wrap the dumplings for each Xiao Long Bao order. Dinesty’s menu features traditional Chinese dishes and snacks. Other dishes worth ordering include spicy wontons, string beans with pork, and deep-fried prawns. Keep in mind that besides the Robson location Dinesty has three restaurants in Richmond and one in Burnaby.

Guu – Japanese Izakaya

With six locations in Vancouver, Guu has cornered the market on Japanese izakaya dining. Izakaya’s are Japanese pub style restaurants where diners order a variety of small plates. This tapas style dining experience makes Guu a great place for dining with a group. The more people in your party the more dishes you can order and try out. With Guu’s extensive menu making selections will be a difficult task. A refreshing seafood choice is the Tuna Tataki. The chefs sear the fish in this dish and serve it with a ponzu sauce and garlic chips. Another popular dish is the melt in your mouth Kakuni, known as pork belly. For noodles order the Yaki Udon. Those that enjoy beer will find Guuud Ale intriguing. This beer is a joint venture between Guu and the Russell Brewing Company. This beer is a perfect pairing fit with any dish you order.

Japadog – Street Food

Vancouver dining isn’t regulated to just restaurants. Along the streets of Vancouver you will find various food trucks. Before today’s food obsessed culture only the bravest of travelers dared to order food from a food truck. Times have changed and now food trucks lead the way in innovative cooking. Culinary fusion is at the forefront of many street food chefs. Japadog is no exception, serving Japanese style hot dogs. Each menu item is a twist on a traditional Japanese dish joined with a hot dog. A first reaction upon seeing the creations at Japadog might be curiosity. The moment you take your first bite any worry you might have had vanishes. The various flavors blend to form one perfect bite after another. Within Vancouver Japadog operates four stands, a truck, a trailer, and one store. Visit any location for a great food truck culinary experience.

Tim Hortons – Canadian’s Popular Restaurant Chain

For a Vancouver dining experience that screams Canada visit Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons is one restaurant chain you won’t be able to avoid while visiting British Columbia.   In Vancouver alone you will find twenty Tim Hortons stores. Even those that have never been to Canada might have seen a Tim Hortons add while watching a hockey game. Tim Hortons may well be as synonymous with Canada these days as the maple leaf. You’ll even find two Tim Hortons at the Vancouver International Airport. Tim Hortons sells coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Lovers of donuts will enjoy Tim Hortons bakery selections. Their donuts are soft and fluffy, regardless of which chain you visit. Since you’re in Canada, be sure to try one of the maple-flavored donuts.

 

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Vancouver Dining

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Blue Water Cafe: 49.276155, -123.121129
Chatime: 49.286649, -123.128278
Dinesty Dumpling House: 49.290780, -123.134073
Guu: 49.284008, -123.125433
Japadog: 49.280244, -123.118355
Tim Hortons: 49.193316, -123.181198
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Blue Water Cafe
Vancouver Dining
Blue Water Cafe, Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Chatime
Vancouver Dining
Chatime Robson, Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Dinesty Dumpling House
Vancouver Dining
Dinesty Dumpling House, Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Guu
Vancouver Dining
Kitanoya Guu Original Thurlow, Thurlow Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Japadog
Vancouver Dining
JAPADOG, Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Tim Hortons
Vancouver Dining
Tim Hortons, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Domestic and International Terminals, Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC, Canada

 

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Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island

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Traditional restaurants and eateries aren’t the only food experiences available on the Big Island of Hawaii. Three Hawaiian food companies have sites on the island open to visitors. Each of the Hawaiian food companies mass produce their products for sale on the islands and export them to other parts of the world. By visiting these Hawaiian food companies in person one can learn the secrets behind producing these foods. This article explores the Hawaiian food companies of Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, Kona Brewing Company, and Punalu’u Bake Shop.

Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company - Kawaihae, HI, USA

Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

Flavoring Panner at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company - Kawaihae, HI

Flavoring Panner at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

Macadamia nuts are as synonymous with the Hawaiian Islands as pineapples. Established in 1994, Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company brings macadamia nuts to the masses. Visitors to this Hawaiian food company’s cannery will see machinery and assembly lines used to bundle the macadamia related products Hamakua sells. Behind glass pane windows visitors witness first hand as Hamakua employees work on macadamia nuts in various stages. Visitors see macadamia nuts being weighed, in flavoring pans, and vacuum sealed in cans. Besides viewing these assembly lines visitors can sample a variety of macadamia nuts. Samples include both regular and flavored macadamia nuts. Be sure to visit the Hamakua gift shop to buy your favorite macadamia nuts, macadamia nut cookies, and macadamia nut brittle.

Kona Brewing Company - Kailua-Kona, HI

Kona Brewing Company

Beer at Kona Brewing Company - Kailua-Kona, HI

Beer at Kona Brewing Company

Kona Brewing Company

As the lone liquid food on this list, the Kona Brewing Company is a Hawaiian food company specializing in handcrafted beers. Their brewery is in the city of Kailua-Kona and offers daily tours. The tours include a history of the Kona Brewing Company. During the tour visitors learn the techniques behind brewing beer. At the end of the tour visitors have the chance to sample the beers. After the brewery consider retiring next door to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant. At the restaurant patrons can drink glasses of beer while eating traditional pub fare. The Growler Shack is between the brewery and the restaurant. Here you can buy growlers or kegs for home consumption. The growlers are half-gallon glass jugs that make for a great souvenir. Kona Brewing Company sells a standard rotation of beers including their popular Longboard Lager and Big Wave Golden Ale. Kona Brewing Company sells their standard beers in grocery stores throughout the United States and around the world. In addition to the standard beers Kona Brewing Company brews seasonal beers. Visiting the Kona Brewing Company in person allows you to sample these unique beers.

Punalu`u Bake Shop - Naalehu, HI

Punalu`u Bake Shop

Taro Sweetbread Rolls from Punalu`u Bake Shop - Naalehu, HI

Taro Sweetbread Rolls from Punalu`u Bake Shop

Punalu’u Bake Shop

It turns out that the southernmost bakery in the United States is on the Big Island of Hawaii. The bakery is Punalu’u and the Punalu’u Bake Shop is in the city of Naalehu. To reach Naalehu visitors to the Big Island will need a rental car. The drive to Naalehu takes 90-minutes from either the city centers of Kona or Hilo. Visitors to the Punalu’u Bake Shop get to try samples of the bakery’s famous Hawaiian Sweetbread. The traditional Hawaiian Sweetbread made by Punalu’u Bake Shop is soft and fluffy. The specialty rolls Punalu’u Bake Shop bakes are delicious. For a real island treat sample the Taro Sweetbread. The premises of the Punalu’u Bake Shop include the visitor’s center, retail bakery, gift shop, and a restaurant. The facilities at Punalu’u Bake Shop will entice those traveling from Kona to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Punalu’u Bake Shop is midway along that journey on Highway 11 and a great place to refuel.

 

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Hawaiian Food Companies - Big Island

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Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company: 20.049097, -155.835638
Kona Brewing Company: 19.643110, -155.997546
Punalu’u Bake Shop: 19.061248, -155.585891
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Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company
Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island
Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co Inc, Maluokalani Street, Waimea, HI, United States
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Kona Brewing Company
Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island
Kona Brewing Co, Pawai Place, Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
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Punalu’u Bake Shop
Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island
Punalu`u Bake Shop, Mamalahoa Highway, Naalehu, HI, United States

 

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Eat Your Way Through Portland

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Portland is a food lover’s paradise. There are so many varieties of cuisine throughout the city for you to indulge your stomach. From fusions to classics to new age there’s a dish for everyone. After visiting Portland when your stomach grumbles you’ll know what it’s trying to say is, “take me back to Portland, I want to eat!”

Portland Mornings

Voodoo doll doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon

Voodoo doll doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut

A motto of Portland’s is “Keep Portland Weird”. A way to experience that weirdness both in visual form and with your taste buds is by stopping over at Voodoo Doughnut. Visitors line up early at either of Voodoo Doughnut’s two Portland locations to buy theses tasty pastries. Both locations open late so you can satisfy your doughnut craving from morning to night. There are over fifty doughnuts to choose from and the doughnuts run the gamut from the extreme to the classics. The namesake doughnut is the “Voodoo Doll” doughnut. This doughnut is in the shape of a person with a pretzel stick jutting out just as a pin on an actual voodoo doll. Another fan favorite is the “Bacon Maple Bar” doughnut. Other popular items are the various cereal-topped doughnuts such as “Captain my Captain” (Captain Crunch) or “The Loop” (Fruit Loops).  Keep in mind that transactions are cash only, so bring money and not your credit cards. The original location, Voodoo Doughnut ONE, is next to Caffe Vita. Caffe Vita is a coffee stand that serves coffee and other beverages for those needing a drink to go with the doughnuts.

Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits - Portland, Oregon

Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits

For those that prefer a heartier meal head over to Pine State Biscuits for breakfast. Fresh buttermilk biscuits can be ordered plain, with a spread such as jam, or as a sandwich. The biscuit sandwiches include a breakfast favorite made with biscuit, cheese, egg, and your choice of meat (bacon, country ham, sausage, fried chicken, or steak). Other biscuit sandwiches include a chicken club and a BBQ biscuit, meaning you could eat at Pine State Biscuit for each meal of the day.

Portland Food Trucks

Waffle from Gaufre Gourmet - Portland, Oregon

Waffle from Gaufre Gourmet

In Europe every Christmas a multitude of cities break out market stalls serving such delicacies as mulled wines, warm dishes with cheeses as its main ingredients, and desserts a plenty. The problem is that these markets only appear in December. In Portland food stalls are open every month of the year. Although these stalls are stationary and don’t truck anywhere they are called food trucks. There are plenty of choices to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Sprawled throughout the city in clusters no one food truck is the same. You may find the same style of cuisine, for instance, a few Vietnamese food trucks. Except each truck must offer something different from its regional cuisine neighbor. This means that one Vietnamese truck may sell pho while the other focuses on selling only rice plates. Ensuring no two food trucks are alike means so many choices your stomach may get full just thinking of the sheer enormity of everything it could consume. The best thing to do is to dig right in and pick whatever fits your fancy. One example of a great food truck is The Gaufre Gourmet. They serve up a Belgian style waffle that will satisfy your sweet or savory tooth.

Portland Dining

Seoul Sliders at KOi Fusion - Portland, Oregon

Seoul Sliders at KOi Fusion

For those that prefer to sit while eating Portland offers great restaurant choices. KOi Fusion has both food truck locations and indoor locations. One of their indoor locations is shared with a couple other eateries and has plenty of seating available. KOi Fusion serves up Mexican-Korean fusion dishes that rival similar food trucks and restaurants found in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Choose from tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and even sliders. These dishes are made with your choice of meats such as bulgogi, kalbi, chicken, or pork. The “Seoul Sliders” with bulgogi BBQ beef on a soft bread bun with zesty coleslaw is a feast for the senses.

Burger and Fries at Lardo - Portland, Oregon

Burger and Fries at Lardo

For the hog fanatic, Lardo serves up an assortment of hog cuts on scrumptious bread rolls filled with fancy spreads. These aren’t your average sandwiches with offerings such as the “Double Burger” made with porkstrami. Lardo’s menu includes a “Pork Meatball Banh Mi” and a “Griddled Mortadella” sandwich with provolone. Lardo’s “Pho’rench Dip” sandwich is made from the same ingredients found in a bowl of Vietnamese pho. If you are looking for a classic sandwich order the “Porchetta” sandwich. There are three Lardo locations in Portland each of which serves up various sandwiches, fries, and beers.

Chicken wings at Pok Pok - Portland, Oregon

Chicken wings at Pok Pok

Those wishing for more of a romantic dinner setting will want to eat at Toro Bravo. The ambience is low light and the wood tables evoke a warm and comforting vibe. With a rotating menu of Spanish style tapas it’s possible to never have the same meal at Toro Bravo twice. Another great restaurant worth making time for is Pok Pok. This restaurant serves a variety of Thai dishes. The restaurant staple is their chicken wings a dish that has become so popular that travelers come to Portland just to eat them.

Portland Drinks

Beer tasting flight at Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) - Portland, Oregon

Beer tasting flight at Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)

With so much food consumption one undertakes in Portland it makes for a thirst that must be quenched. Portland doesn’t disappoint in that regard either, having many coffee shops, ranging from chains and local joints. Besides coffee Portland is home to more breweries than any other city in the entire world. With so many to choose from selecting just one brewery to visit is hard. If you have to a good choice is HUB, which stands for Hopworks Urban Brewery. What sets HUB apart is that is serves organic beers at both of their two locations. An item on the beer menu is their flight of ten beers, a way to sample the various beers brewed by HUB. HUB is not just for adults but a place you can bring the whole family. Their locations include a restaurant that serves pub fare such as chicken wings, burgers, and pizzas.

View of the surrounding area of De Ponte Cellars - Dayton, Oregon

View of the surrounding area of De Ponte Cellars

Besides beer Oregon is well known for the wine produced in the state. In just over an hour from the city center of Portland you will find a few of Oregon’s best wineries. Top wineries include De Ponte Cellars, Domaine Drouhin, and WillaKenzie Estate. At each of these locations you’ll find full-bodied pinots and crisp whites wines. These wines are sipped in tasting rooms that overlook gorgeous views of vineyards, trees, and on cloud free days even Mount Hood. The tall magnificent trees that are found throughout the Pacific Northwest adds a special quality to the experience of wine tasting in Oregon. You won’t see trees of this kind wine tasting in places such as Napa or the Loire Valley, so soak it in during your visit.

 

 

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Portland, Oregon

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Portland Building: 45.515663, -122.678500
Pearl District: 45.530209, -122.681204
Downtown, Portland: 45.513454, -122.680134
Pioneer Courthouse Square: 45.518300, -122.678905
Chinatown Gates: 45.523512, -122.674157
Washington Park: 45.512640, -122.712736
International Rose Garden: 45.518951, -122.705273
Portland Japanese Garden: 45.519136, -122.706780
Multnomah Falls: 45.576160, -122.115776
Wahkeena Falls: 45.574181, -122.127430
Vista House on Crown Point: 45.539579, -122.244446
Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location): 45.522621, -122.673111
Caffe Vita: 45.522447, -122.672914
Pine State Biscuits: 45.558886, -122.642744
Gaufre Gourmet: 45.521057, -122.680316
KOi Fusion: 45.450419, -122.781197
Lardo: 45.522021, -122.683540
Toro Bravo: 45.540813, -122.663611
Pok Pok: 45.504565, -122.632159
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB): 45.496893, -122.634884
De Ponte Cellars: 45.262715, -123.058269
Domaine Drouhin: 45.265540, -123.055634
WillaKenzie Estate: 45.360877, -123.137926
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Portland Building
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Portland Building, Portland, OR, United States
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Pearl District
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pearl District, Portland, OR, United States
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Downtown, Portland
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Downtown, Portland, OR, United States
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Pioneer Courthouse Square
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR, United States
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Chinatown Gates
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Chinatown Gates Portland, Northwest 4th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Washington Park
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Washington Park, Portland, OR, United States
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International Rose Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

International Rose Test Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Portland Japanese Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Portland Japanese Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Multnomah Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Multnomah Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Wahkeena Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Vista House on Crown Point
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Vista House, Historic Columbia River Highway, Corbett, OR, United States
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Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Voodoo Doughnut, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Caffe Vita
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Caffe Vita, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Pine State Biscuits
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pine State Biscuits Alberta, Northeast Alberta Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Gaufre Gourmet
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Gaufre Gourmet, Southwest 9th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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KOi Fusion
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Washington Square, Southwest Washington Square Road, Portland, OR, United States
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Lardo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Lardo, Southwest Washington Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Toro Bravo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Toro Bravo, Northeast Russell Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Pok Pok
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pok Pok, Southeast Division Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Southeast Powell Boulevard, Portland, OR, United States
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De Ponte Cellars
Eat Your Way Through Portland
De Ponte Cellars, Northeast Archery Summit Road, Dayton, OR, United States
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Domaine Drouhin
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dayton, OR, United States
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WillaKenzie Estate
Eat Your Way Through Portland
WillaKenzie Estate, Northeast Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR, United States

 

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Oxford, Part Two

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Continued from Oxford, Part One

Tom Tower and Tom Quad at Christ Church - Oxford, England

Tom Tower and Tom Quad at Christ Church

Once you’ve eaten and shopped your way out of Covered Market the walking tour will have you continue on towards St. Martin’s Tower. The locals refer to this monument as Carfax Tower. From here you will head to one of the most popular locations, Christ Church Cathedral and College. The current popularity stems from the fact that various parts of Christ Church were the inspiration for, or actual film locations, for the Harry Potter series. You’ll first pass by Tom Tower, created by the famed English architect Sir Christopher Michael Wren, as you make your way to the entrance to the Christ Church Meadow. The path to the Christ Church Meadow is through the War Memorial Garden. After exiting the War Memorial Garden to your left will be the public entrance to buy tickets into Christ Church.

Turf Tavern - Oxford, England

Turf Tavern

Your ticket gains you access into the Tom Quad, The Great Hall, and the Cathedral. Harry Potter fans will recognize The Great Hall as the inspiration for the dining hall at Hogwarts. Once inside the Cathedral you will want to pick up their pamphlet, “A Brief Tour of the Cathedral”, as it highlights the main points of interest inside the Cathedral. Once done inside take a moment in Tom Quad to soak in your surroundings and breathe in the same air as the Oxford intelligentsia. After Christ Church the walking tour takes you past the Botanic Gardens, which has its own admissions price. You will see other colleges such as Corpus Christ, Merton, and Magdalen.  On New College Lane you will see a bridge that connects two parts of Hertford College. This bridge is known as the Bridge of Sighs, a reference to the bridge of the same name in Venice.

Lamb and Flag Passage - Oxford, England

Lamb and Flag Passage

At this point in your journey you may have a hankering for a pint or pub food. Near the Bridge of Sighs is the famous Turf Tavern, which offers a self-described “education in intoxication”. On a sign by the tavern are the words “If you’ve been to Oxford before, without visiting the Turf, then you haven’t really visited Oxford”. Even famous people have visited the Turf Tavern such as Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Thatcher, and Ben Kingsley. The Turf Tavern boasts high quality cask ales fresh from the tap. If available be sure to try a pint of the Damson Porter, a smooth on the palate dark beer. If the pub fare at Turf Tavern doesn’t pique your interest head to nearby Holywell Street and The Alternative Tuck Shop. At The Alternative Tuck Shop sandwiches are made to order for takeaway. The chicken tikka with mango chutney on a baguette isn’t spicy but cool and refreshing.

Peek Kai Tod Kraiem at Chiang Mai Kitchen - Oxford, England

Peek Kai Tod Kraiem at Chiang Mai Kitchen

From Holywell Street you will resume your walking tour on Parks Road. You will pass by Wadham College, University Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum of Ethnology, and Keble College. From there the tour will take you through the Lamb and Flag Passage, a tranquil passageway that is charming. Try to capture a peaceful moment in this section of Oxford. If time permits before leaving Oxford you can head back near Covered Market, to the pedestrian zone on Cornmarket Street. Here you can spend time at a coffee shop or explore such stores as H&M, Moss, or Zara. If you decide to have dinner in Oxford try Chiang Mai Kitchen. This authentic Thai restaurant serves up delicious dishes such as Peek Kai Tod Kraiem. Peek Kai Tod Kraiem is a plate of chicken wings fried and slathered with a Thai sweet and spicy sauce. Traditional dishes of Pad Thai and Thai Curry are tasty. At this point your day in Oxford is over and you will walk back to the train station and onwards to your next destination.

 

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Oxford

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University of Oxford: 51.756634, -1.254704
Oxford Railway Station: 51.753288, -1.269913
Ashmolean Museum: 51.755302, -1.260026
Martyrs Memorial: 51.755053, -1.258972
Radcliffe Camera: 51.753425, -1.254012
Covered Market: 51.752195, -1.256583
Christ Church: 51.750643, -1.256597
Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College: 51.754472, -1.253734
Turf Tavern: 51.754685, -1.252968
The Alternative Tuck Shop: 51.755049, -1.251845
Lamb and Flag Passage: 51.757468, -1.258492
Cornmarket Street: 51.752937, -1.258310
Chiang Mai Kitchen: 51.752020, -1.256478
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University of Oxford
Oxford, Part One
University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Oxford Railway Station
Oxford, Part One
Oxford Railway Station, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Ashmolean Museum
Oxford, Part One
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Martyrs Memorial
Oxford, Part One
Martyrs Memorial, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Radcliffe Camera
Oxford, Part One
Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Square, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Covered Market
Oxford, Part One
The Covered Market Oxford, Market Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Christ Church
Oxford, Part Two
Christ Church, Saint Aldate's, Oxford, UK
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Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College
Oxford, Part Two
Bridge of Sighs, New College Lane, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Turf Tavern
Oxford, Part Two
The Turf Tavern, Bath Place, Oxford, United Kingdom
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The Alternative Tuck Shop
Oxford, Part Two
The Alternative Tuck Shop, Holywell Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Lamb and Flag Passage
Oxford, Part Two
Lamb and Flag Passage, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Cornmarket Street
Oxford, Part Two
Cornmarket Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Chiang Mai Kitchen
Oxford, Part Two
Chiang Mai Kitchen Ltd, High Street, Oxford, United Kingdom

 

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Windsor and Eton Brewery

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When I’d reached the legal drinking age I found myself drawn to wine. Intrigued by the many varietals of wine I searched out as much information as I could. I enjoyed visiting wineries for tastings and to learn how wine is produced. Even years later I am still finding new and exciting wines to sample. Although wine production shares many qualities with beer, for many years I wasn’t interested in beer. Over time, I realized it was because I had tried nothing beyond the basic light name brand beer. Once I’d made the conscious decision to expand my beer horizon a whole new realm opened for me. Similar to wine, beer is produced through out the world with many brands and types of beer to try. On my last trip to England I was excited to see what beers the country offered. I looked forward to treating my taste buds to what the English refer to as ‘bitter’ beer.

One city I planned on visiting while in England was Windsor. In researching which sights to see in Windsor I read that the city has a brewery.   Windsor & Eton Brewery is a fifteen-minute walk from the famed Windsor Castle. The brewery’s website mentions that in the past Windsor created fabulous ales. In 1931 the last brewery in the city closed its doors. That is until 2010 when Windsor & Eton Brewery opened. Without hesitation I added the brewery to my list of places to visit. I found the prospect of visiting an up and coming brewery steeped in tradition exciting.

I arrived in Windsor by train via Windsor & Eton Central Station and opted for the scenic route to the brewery. From the train station I made my way to Barry Avenue, with Alexandra Gardens to my left and River Thames to my right. A left at Vansittart Road led me away from the River Thames and into a residential section of Windsor. Continuing on to Duke Street, I passed quaint two-story homes, a group of residences known as the Gardner Cottages. These homes are along Arthur Road, Vansittart Road, and Duke Street. The homes form a square shape with a field in the middle shared by the tenants. The Duke Street section of the square takes up two sides of the square and across the corner of the Duke Streets is the Windsor & Eton Brewery.

Sign for Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England (Photograph from the website: Check Before You Trek)

Sign for Windsor and Eton Brewery

Windsor & Eton Brewery offers tours twice a week, with tour dates and times available on their website’s event page. I wasn’t in Windsor on a tour day but figured I’d try my luck and stop by the brewery to see if it was open. Windsor & Eton Brewery is in a one-story building. The building’s nondescript outside resembles more an office building than a brewery. A sign on the wall shows that you have arrived at Windsor & Eton Brewery. I entered through the main door into what appeared to be a receptionist space. An employee of the brewery welcomed me and led me into the Windsor & Eton Brewery store. The store has for sale beers, growlers, and merchandise ranging from shirts to key chains.

Various beers for sale at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Various beers for sale at Windsor and Eton Brewery

While perusing the beers on sale another employee asked if I was interested in tasting a few of the beers the brewery was producing on site. I said yes, and they ushered me into an adjoining room. This immense space was the section of the building where the beers are brewed and bottled. Large brewing tanks and stainless steel beer barrels took up most of the room. One section of the room had a counter set aside for beer tasting.

Brew tanks at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Brew tanks at Windsor and Eton Brewery

Each of the beers that Windsor & Eton Brewery produces is named in homage to the royal city of Windsor. For example, they have the Knight of the Garter Golden Ale, the Guardsman Best Bitter, and the Conqueror Black IPA. When Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, married Catherine Middleton the brewery created the Windsor Knot Pale Ale. During the tasting the employee told me the history of the brewery and the brewing methods used by the brewery. Of particular note was how beer brewed in England differs from the way beer is brewed in America. To illustrate the point the tasting included a traditional English ‘bitter’ beer. English refer to pale ale as ‘bitter’ beer. This beer is cask ale, which means after brewing in the tanks it goes through a second fermentation in barrels. Due to the cooler climate of England ‘bitter’ beer is served at room temperature but still tastes cool and refreshing. In contrast are keg beers, beer that is pressurized in tanks and kept cold and how most American beers are made. Windsor & Eton brewery makes an American IPA that is served chilled, and it was interesting tasting the ‘bitter’ versus the American IPA. Afterwards I sampled a couple other light and dark beers the brewery produces. Every beer was crisp, full bodied, and wonderful.

Tasting area at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Tasting area at Windsor and Eton Brewery

After tasting a few beers I went back into the store and purchased bottles of beers I hadn’t had the chance to sample. As I left the Windsor & Eton Brewery I felt humbled. Even though I showed up unannounced, and not at the brewery during a scheduled tour, the employees treated me with such hospitality. In retrospect I wish I had attended a tour. The tours run for ninety minutes, allowing for a more in depth tutorial on the actual brewing techniques used. If you are a fan of beer, or want to learn how beer is produced in England, be sure to visit the Windsor & Eton Brewery.

Display at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Display at Windsor and Eton Brewery

 

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Windsor and Eton Brewery

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Windsor and Eton Brewery 51.484451, -0.617875 Windsor and Eton Brewery

 

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