Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wineries and Canada Day in Kelowna (Throwback post)

We'd forgotten all about Canada Day, until we arrived in Kelowna and found people getting ready to celebrate it.

Canada Day is the anniversary of the creation of the self governing Dominion of Canada, a federation of the four provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, which happened on 1 July 1867.

Since then of course, Canada has expanded, and now has ten provinces and three territories.

Canada Day, Kelowna

Now in many countries, a day like this would be highly nationalistic and focussed entirely on the people and things that are 'classically Canadian'. What we loved about the celebrations here was that they were far more inclusive.

Canada Day, Kelowna

Yes, of course, there was plenty of Canadian red and white on show, and people were displaying - and wearing - flags and so forth, which was great.

But they were also celebrating the way that Canada is made up of people from many varied heritages.

So their festivities included music and dance from First Nations people, the British, and the many other nationalities that have been absorbed into the Canadian population.
Canada Day, Kelowna

Not that Kelowna has a particularly high instance of minorities. 98% have either some form of Christian belief or no religion, and 90.4% are white and 3.4% First Nations, so other ethnic groups make up only 6.2%. Nonetheless, it was great to see this being such a positive embrace of all of the people that make up their country, without in any way detracting from this being a national day. Wouldn't it be nice if that is how we could all be, all of the time?

Canada Day Cake, Kelowna

Of course you can't have a celebration without cake, and there was a huge one. It was actually quite tasty too. And then in the evening we had the other thing that seems to be a mandatory part of any celebration these days - fireworks.

Kelowna is Canada's 22nd largest city, but its population is under 200,000, so it isn't huge.
It sits in the Okanagan Valley and on the lake of the same name.

It draws a lot of visitors, partly for the scenery and activities locally, and partly for its local wineries. You can probably guess why we were here. We did look around the town, which was nice enough - and there was a pretty good BBQ meat restaurant called Memphis Blues.
Kelowna vineyards

But on to the wine. Having spent some time in town, and unexpectedly, on seeing the Canada Day celebrations, we only had one day to check out wineries, and getting around them proved more tricky than we had expected.

There were buses, but they didn't seem to run to quite the same routes and timetables that we had. Not that we were the only ones waiting; there were lots of locals looking perplexed and irritated too.

Mission Hill Winery, Kelowna
But we did make it to two wineries. The first was Mission Hill. Needless to say, the bus only took us to the bottom of the hill, and we had to walk up. This would have been OK had the weather not decided to give us a mini heatwave.

We had set off prepared, with water, hats and sunscreen, but it was such an incredibly hot day, and there was hardly any shade, so even taking it very slowly, we arrived shattered, sweaty, and swearing that the wines had better be worth it.

Mission Hill Winery, Kelowna
A very lovely lady met us when we arrived, and immediately got us some iced water. She was pretty impressed that we had persisted with the walk up. Everyone else there had arrived by car or coach.

Mission Hill Winery, Kelowna
We had to wait for the next tour and tasting, which gave us time to cool down a bit - standing in front of their big fans - and then wander out to take in the beautiful setting. Being at the top of a hill can be hard work, but it does have some advantages at least.

Mission Hill Winery, Kelowna
After the wine tasting - you'll be relieved to know the wines were good - we bought a couple of bottles and again spoke to the lady who met us when we arrived.

She asked us where we were going next, and she then told us that she was just finishing work, and offered to drive us there, saving us walking back down the hill and waiting in the sun for another bus. How nice of her.

Quails' Gate Winery, Kelowna
She dropped us at our second winery, which was Quails' Gate. This also had some great wines, and was thankfully on the same road as the bus route, so we didn't have to walk far to get the bus back.

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