Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vancouver Livin'

Aug 3, 2009

Travel: Excursion to Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, British ColumbiaBy Frank Clayton, Jr.

I was looking for an inexpensive way to get out of the country and not be bothered with the hassle of a language barrier or under-developed city infrastructures so, I started asking colleagues for suggestions.

Most suggested taking a European excursion. They obviously missed the part about it being extremely important that the trip be inexpensive. I eventually started doing research of my own. I found the next best thing to an England or Britain vacation––British Columbia.

If you are looking for a quaint get away from the day-to-day, and you don’t want to spend tons of cash, consider Vancouver, British Columbia as the spot for a quick vacation. Vancouver has complex ferry systems, grand parks and year round attractions and activities for the motivated sightseer.

With proper notice, you can get a round-trip Amtrak ticket for less than $200 and an airline ticket costs less than $400. Hotels are available for as low as $50 per night, or, for the truly adventurous traveler, hostels are as low as $20 night.

The food prices may look slightly higher than in the states. However remember the exchange rate between the American dollar and the Canadian dollar saves you a little when making purchases.

Using a debit card may give you more bang-for-your-buck than exchanging cash. Your bank most likely charge you a minimal service charge for foreign transactions on debit card purchases but will most likely give you a better exchange rate than any hotel or bank in BC.

Other than that, exchanging money is fairly simple. Most banks, airports or hotels have places to make a switch.

A fun fact to know is that the Canadian dollar comes in coin form so be sure to not mistake it for a quarter. I learned this the hard way when I occasionally passed out loose change to the transients near my hotel.

If you are new to travel, the city is conveniently set up to accommodate even the most eager gumshoe backpacker transition from location to location. The buses, Skytrain, and ferry systems are united and allow you to transfer from system to system all on the same fare — about $2.50 for most areas. It’s a fitting way to move around the city with ease.

Don’t worry if the backpack experience or hostels aren’t your style. Vancouver has a plethora of hotels ranging in style and amenities, from the five-star Pan Pacific Hotel to the economically feasible Patricia Budget Inn.

“The City by the Sea” provides several British-style double-decker tour buses and San Francisco-style trolley cars to explore in a touristy way.

Vancouver AquariumA few sites you may want to stop by while in Vancouver include the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the Vancouver Convention Center, Canada Place Center, Waterfront Park, or Bloedel Conservatory. If you prefer a trek off the beaten tourist path, grab a map and just go for it.

Café Medina offers waffles with a donut taste to them with thick slices of bacon that would make the most anti-swine connoisseur think twice.

The chic and well-run Republic nightclub holds a reggae night on Sundays that lights up the city and brings all the cultures of the city together in true reggae fashion.

Other less publicized gems of the city include Chill Winston or The Shark Club Sports Bar (ask for Smitty). Another fun club is the Red Room. Burnaby Park is also a nice outdoor destination.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese GardenWith highly European influenced architecture and coble stone streets in the city’s Gaston district and its new Japanese influenced waterfront condo in its Yaletown District, Vancouver provides a touch of the old with a flood of the new and modern.

The collage of residents a can be accurately described as mostly Europeans and Asians with only 2% of the cities population being African American or of African descent. Don’t let that deter you: The culture of the city is inclusive and accepting of all races.

Vancouver — known as the city where the sea, forest, and mountains meet — is a scenic densely populated metropolis that draws many comparisons to fellow West Coast tourist hotspot San Francisco. Stanley Park is the first cousin of Golden Gate Park.

Where Vancouver and San Francisco vary is in Vancouver’s commitment to keep its city’s landscape full of lush foliage and park areas.

For such an industrialized and densely populated city, Vancouver has an extremely green ambience. Aquabus driver, Steven Smith says, “The city has made a real commitment to keeping the city in tuned with the environment.”

Like San Francisco, Vancouver has a bay touching the Pacific Ocean, an authentic Chinatown District, tourists driven downtown and huge homeless and transient presence in select areas.

For all their similarities, Vancouver provides enough shifts in atmosphere and culture to realize that you are not in America anymore. Nonetheless, minus the hills of San Francisco, the 49ers and the Vancouver Canucks, the two cities are twin empires and popular west coast tourist mainstays.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jay-z Challenges New Era at BET Awards

Jay-z put the smash down on the artist and fans of new booty hip hop. In a surprise performance at the BET Music Awards Jay-Z appears to challenge the new and next generation to step their content game up. An apparent nudge from a rap big brother. "Your jeans too tight, colors too bright, voice too light."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Enough is Enough-Peace is up to u-This could be you!

We have to take a stand for peace and non-violence. The societies of the world have devolved over the past decades. WE are not truly a species of war that's why we find it so disturbing. Peace is our truthful nature. Are you evolved enough to love unconditionally? God has been pimped by corporations and this is what it results in, death to those who choose to be free and not earthly slaves. Stand up if you truly love and know the real God. The God that loves all its children.......


There is but, one GOD, one life. A perfect being dressed in unconditional love. That life is my life and the life of all. I Figgaroa speak my word of peace to all nations. We are all divinely blessed that our children and their children will know and choose peace. WE are evolved enough to denounce war. There is more peace in the world than there is hate. I must do my part for love. I give thanks for my knowing this, even in times when it may not look, feel or seem like GOD is not present. I release and let go and let GOD. Knowing that it is done.

And so it is....

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oakland Does it Again!! Party in the Streets

Thanks to careful planning and incomparable talent of Oakland braised artists the "Town" hosted a Fine Art Festival sponsored by The Uptown and other local vendors and business owners along Telegraph Ave. The event was extremely successful despite being held in the middle of the street; in the middle of the week; in the middle of a so-called recession. Only Oakland can bring the array of cultures and creeds together to dance in the middle of the streets- From the Funk band and belly dancers to the Reggae on the corner of 18th. Oakland's own Kev Choice and the Kev Choice Ensemble closed the night out with a surprise appearance from one third of the super group and Oakland natives Zion I. Oakland club owners and developers are pleased with the event and have more ammunition when it goes to battle with the city council on issues of street fairs, extending club hours, liquor licenses, event permits and expanded the bar districts of downtown. If you were there please let me know what you thought of the event and send pictures to Figgaroa's Fotos - figgarao@figgaroa.biz


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Travel Edition--Vancouver the San Francisco of the North

I am in the beautiful city of Vancouver, BC, Canada. I can't say enough about this city. The trip started off rocky with a little trouble with the border patrol. This city of grand sights and street by street economical contradictions, has a quant charm. Many compare this city to San Francisco and it is well deserved. Not only is it a city y the Bay, Stanley Park is twin to SF's Golden Gate Park. With snow caped mountains in the background Vancouver is a city where forest meets, sea meets mountains. 
Much of the city is undergoing renovation. Condos and high rise apartments are sprouting up along the cities bay area. Setting the stage for high priced waterfront living. These new developments are setting the stage for a showdown between the cities huge homeless population and city officials. 
Other than the social tension Vancouver offers many parks, venues and elegant restaurants. A low priced transit system allows you to flow through the city via, bus, skytrian, or ferry on one low fare. Vancouver is a tourist friendly city once again drawing comparisons to San Fran.  The prices of food may surprise you in Canada. The slight higher value of the dollar won't do much for the price differences. So be prepared to spend a little more cash for meals. All in all it will make for a great place to get away. 
Here are a few places to look into:
Medina's Cafe
The Republic Night Club
The Shark Bar-sports bar
Waterfront Park
Vancouver Aquarium 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Great Train Ride!

I am on my way to Vancouver and the trip could not be going any better. The scenery is great and I have a nice comfortable seat to myself. The stop in Eugene, OR allows me to bum some wifi from a local cafe. It's 12:42 and that means about 12 more hours until we hit Vancouver, BC. This is a real backpackers adventure. If you ever get the chance....DO IT–or something like it.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Obsessed was Depress-ing

Most movies with a beautiful songstress/model/super star as the lead actress has a chance to wow me. Depressed...oooops I mean Obsessed was extremely disappointing. I don't know who is at fault more my expectations or the writer of this predictable poorly written screen play. Now don't get me wrong I can watch Beyonce' bounce back and forth across the screen all day. It doesn't take much to keep my attention when she is involved but, I am looking out for the real movie goers. With the exception of the sultry female co-stars (Beyonce' Knowles and Ali Larter) and the one-of-a-kind ass whooping at the end, the movie fail short of Oscar glory. The male lead, Idris Elba, did his best to portray a dumb ass husband that would hide silly but very relevant information from his wife and closest co-workers/friends. I wouldn't recommend seeing this movie at full price. It is a good matinee or wait for the video.