Activities in Vancouver for the Old-Fashioned and the Cultural Lovers

Last year, I ranted about how Vancouver, BC, Canada is not for the old-fashioned. We’re a true misfit and minority if we love heritage buildings (by my terms, I mean protected and unprotected historically ‘old’ buildings), vintage and antique clothing, antiques, operas, plays, ballets (with costumes fitting the eras), and period dramas. In 2011, I dreaded thinking of having to spend the next few years in my hometown (Vancouver being my hometown is the only reason I’m back here, by the way), deprived of all that culturally enriches and delights me. I just wanted to be back in Europe where I belong!

Luckily during the last few years, I’ve found a few activities and events in Vancouver that will allow us to escape into another time and world. So fret not!

Performing Arts


We need our Shakespeare dosage. Thankfully, young adults and students under 25 are entitled to discounted tickets at $27 rather than $33-47. This year, more special events have been added, including Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Bard, Will Shakespeare’s ImprovMusical, and Academie Duello’s Fight Night. My personal favourite special event is UBC Opera’s Operas & Arias. These students are talented!

This year, Bard on the Beach will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Cymbeline, and Equivocation (by Bill Cain).

Price: $27 (for youth 6-25 year-olds)
Seating: I believe they changed it this year to assigned seating (please confirm with them) :/ That said, instead of waiting in the queue to pick the best seat, you’ll want to buy your tickets ASAP!
Book: Online, by phone or at box office.
Venue: Vanier Park. There are 2 tents: main (view of water & mountains) and studio (no view)
Facebook: Bardonthebeach


  • Ballet company tours

I’m not saying that BC Ballet is bad but the style simply isn’t mine. I’m sure the dancers are superb and maybe one day I’ll watch one of their performances. Unfortunately for them, if there aren’t pretty tutus, classical music, or classical ballet, I’m just not interested. 😦

In the last two years, I’ve been blessed to be able to attend the Mikhailovsky Theatre‘s Swan Lake and Cuban National Ballet’s Don Quixote, thanks to the discounted tickets from Tickets Tonight. I’ve also seen three versions of The Nutcracker from Goh Ballet, BC & Alberta Ballet, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. My one regret is that I missed RWB’s Romeo & Juliet this year. RWB’s ballets usually feature the most beautiful costumes.

Learn and dance to contradances and English country dances for $12 and to live fiddle music! I keep missing the chance to attend one but I’m hoping to try again this autumn. Take a look at the schedule here.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this society in Vancouver! I had taken two Baroque dance lessons in Munich but had to drop it due to limited finances. Imagine my delight when I found out I could learn Baroque dancing in Vancouver! Catherine recently taught five classes at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. She will be teaching more classes at the Dance Centre this summer, so keep your eyes peeled! It’s affordable and it’s lots of fun for all ages. No pressure to be perfect. 😉


I’ve had the misfortune of attending some famous operas only to find modern costumes and sets. It’s just not the same anymore. I usually wait to see what kind of costumes and sets the operas I’d like to see will have before purchasing my O.U.T. (Opera Under Thirty-five) ticket for $30. I’m looking forward to seeing Carmen again this 2014/2015 season. Maybe I’ll even see Die Fledermaus (one of my favourite operas, but VO will set this in Vancouver) and Sweeney Todd.

Price: $30 (18-35 year olds)
Seating: Seating varies. You could be in the mezzanine or upstairs in the balcony.
Book: Online or by phone. Check Twitter, Facebook or their Blogger for the promo code for each performance and provide it when choosing a date.
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Facebook: VancouverOpera

I love visiting the 1920’s Orpheum theatre for any VSO concert. If you’re under 30/35, get the All-Access Pass and attend concerts for $15! Best concert in my opinion is the one-night Last Night of the Proms.

Price: $15 (the website advertises $15 but I’d attended 2 concerts from 2011-12 for $10)
Seating: All except dress circle. I’ve always had row 4 seating (however, you may select your own seat and sit farther away from the stage)
Book: Online. Up to 2 weeks before performance. Sometimes you may have to wait a few days afterwards. Call customer service (604.876.3434) to see if the performance is eligible for the All-Access Pass to avoid disappointment (i.e. waiting til last minute for cheap tix).
Venue: usually Orpheum Theatre
Facebook: VSOrchestra


I still can’t believe there’s a Jane Austen society in Vancouver. They meet every month and there are various events that take place. As much as I love Jane Austen, I don’t feel qualified enough to be a Janeite… but this might be something to try one day. I was really hoping for a Jane Austen ball or something to allow us to dress up.

I had just learned about this society from a church member who said I would like this. I certainly am looking forward to attending a Scriptorium and Dance practise.

Vintage Wear & Hats

  • SMOC (The Society for the Museum of Original Costume)

Every month or so, there’s a historical fashion lecture with models wearing historical and vintage outfits. My very first show that I attended was on the Little Black Dress. SMOC is taking a summer hiatus now but will return on Sunday, 21 September with ‘The Sporting Life: Historical Dress of Fun and Games.’ (Check their Facebook page for updates and photos.)

  • Ivan Sayers’ Historical Fashion shows

Ivan Sayers is usually the main presenter for SMOC’s fashion shows. Known for his wit and knowledge on history and fashion history, he’s also been asked to present in various venues for different organisations. I’ve been honoured to be one of his models for a year now. The next two shows he’s presenting, ‘Claus Jahnke and Ivan Sayers’ Art Deco Chic: Women’s Clothing of the 1920s & 1930s‘, will be at the Langley Centennial Museum in Fort Langley on Sunday, 1 June.

The Saucy Milliner has several vintage hat blocks so that you can buy a 1920’s or 1940’s silhouette hat for yourself! She also hosts a few 2-day intro to millinery workshops so you can block your own hats. I had the pleasure of taking her weekend workshop in 2011 and have learned how challenging it is to make hats. If hat making is not for you, then do visit her Facebook page to see some of her beautiful works of art!

I had the pleasure of meeting Vivian from Second Chance Hats two years ago when she had her old booth at the Vancouver Flea Market. I have bought countless of vintage hats from her. Not only does she have the most beautiful hats and head pieces from all decades for men and women, she also has some great selections of vintage clothing. Now that she’s moved from Vancouver, she will be visiting the city every so often for the Retro fair at the Croatian Community Centre and for the Time Travelers’ Bazaar.

I missed the first year of Vancouver’s first and only costumers’ market and rummage sale in 2013 so I was very glad to be able to make it this April. While most of the tables featured Steampunk and Dieselpunk, there were a few tables with Medieval and Victorian costumes, as well as vintage hats and clothing.

Historical Buildings

I haven’t joined a walking tour of historical houses in Vancouver yet but I hope to one of these days. I recently learned that in the City of Vancouver, not even a heritage plaque protects historical buildings from being demolished. How I hate Glasscouver.

With Urban Tea Merchant being an exception (because it truly is superior), there’s no better place to have afternoon tea than in a heritage house. I’ve already had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea at Für Elise (a Queen Anne style house) and London Heritage Farm (a Victorian farm house) in Steveston. The latter serves the most delicious lavender scones, by the way. I also plan on visiting Adorabelle (the Old Courthouse from 1925) in Steveston for afternoon tea at some point.


You can visit my other blog, Little Europe in Vancouver, for a list of upcoming events and activities related to Europe, including operas. I’d also written a post last year on discounts for cultured Vancouverites. For more local tips, visit the Local Tips: Vancouver page.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and will find plenty of things to do while you’re in Vancouver. If you have any more suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Follow on Bloglovin

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

7 years ago, I had the opportunity to join the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme at my university. I had heard about it once before when I was in HS but was afraid it was too late for me. I was therefore glad to learn at the info session that it was for youths 14-25. There would be plenty of time to complete any level – all three, if I really wanted to (at age 18).

English: This is the official national logo fo...

English: This is the official national logo for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started in silver, hoping to eventually work up to gold. Yet when I found how difficult it was to organise camping trips for the Adventure section, year after year, I decided that I’d best start with the gold level. Sadly, I was running out of time. Last August, I was delighted to find that the Ridge Wilderness Adventures offers DofE-approved adventure trips (kayaking or canoeing) for youth up to age 25. The latter is especially important as most of these adventure trips are generally offered to youth up to age 19, if not 18. This was my last section to be completed before I turn 25 (NOTE: All activities must be completed before your 25th birthday! Signatures and adventure report have no deadline but participants are advised to turn in their logbook as soon as possible, preferably within 1-2 months).

The next trying task was to add up all the hours of the physical recreation and service activities I’d done in the last 7 years. I regret not having collected some signatures when I had the chance as the hours for those activities are now disqualified. With only 2 pages for each section to record, it is important that you prepare some extra pages (i.e. create an Excel template) and have them printed as soon as possible so that each activity may be recorded and signed by an assessor.

As my 25th birthday approaches (in 2 days), I look back at the last 7 years with great memories but also with some ‘regrets’:

Regret 1:

I wish I’d printed out my extra pages and collected signatures when I had the chance. Though I do not regret the activities I could try out, there is no ‘proof’ that I’d ever participated in some of these activities. Not to mention the number of qualifying hours I’ve lost.

Regret 2:

I wish I’d told myself that I have 7 years to learn and improve on a/one skill – consistently. Instead, I picked up several skills along the way (which I do not regret). I chose writing as my main skill, switching between creative writing, journaling, to blogging. Yet I also picked up sewing, hat making (millinery), candle making, soap making, and plenty of other activities… all of which were trial skills. At the same time, I know that it maintaining some of these skills required quite a bit of money, whereas writing would always be free.

Regret 3:

I wish I’d saved lots of money for these activities, instead of having to take breaks in between for lack of money. I wish I’d emphasised to my parents how important this award is for me so that I could participate in one of the exciting residential projects out there. I am glad, however, that my year abroad in Germany as an exchange student counts though I’d often dreamt that I would be volunteering in a remote part of Canada or somewhere in Kenya, for instance. Nevertheless, my exchange year was one of the best years of my life. I really grew and became a person I wanted to be. I learned far more in one year than I’d ever learned in a classroom.

Regret 4:

The last regret is part of life: we age. Though my camping peers may have thought that I was their age (16-17), I am in fact 7 years older and finding that the world offers fewer and fewer programmes for young adults 24-30. I wish I could time travel to my earlier years. I wish I’d known about this Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme while I was in HS. I would have done so much more. Perhaps?

When I submit my logbook and report this summer/autumn, both the Divisional and National Offices will review what I have done. It could take 4-6 weeks or longer before I know if I’m even approved to receive an award. Yet whether or not I shall be able to be approved to receive a Gold Award, I want YOU to live this life I wish I’d lived or relive the life I had (and will continue to have).

I want you to know about this wonderful programme for us younglings to help us explore our talents and interests. This programme may at times force you out of your comfort zone: meeting strangers, learning how to deal with them, learning how they think, learning to be humble, learning to be brave, and learning to take charge. At the end, it will have trained you to be a leader, however you want to define a leader.

English: The official tagline for the DOE in C...

English: The official tagline for the DOE in Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So if you are still under 25 and have at least 6 months, one year or a year-and-a-half until then, seize the opportunity now to participate in this programme:

  • SERVE the community (service)
  • Learn a new SKILL
  • Stay PHYSICALLY active (physical recreation)
  • Have an ADVENTURE with others
  • Spend time away from home on a RESIDENTIAL PROJECT

When you are done with the award, don’t stop. Continue to do all of the above so that you will never be bored and always learn something and meet someone new. 🙂

I would like to thank HRH The Duke of Edinburgh for setting up this programme and for opening it to the Commonwealth and outside the Commonwealth. I would also like to thank everyone who has helped answer my [billions of redundant and possibly annoying] questions along the way and who have helped me improve myself. 🙂

24 Things I Learned in Life

With one month to go before I turn a quarter of a century, I’ve come up with a list of things I’ve learned the last 24 years (in no particular order of importance).

  1. Chicken noodle soup is a must have when you’re ill.
    Thank you whoever invented Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup!
  2. Wooden roller coasters are painful.
    I’m not sure about men but it’s painful for women.
  3. Pets are the best ‘antidepressants’ (forget drugs – get a pet).
    People can be disappointing. Pets will warm your heart with their cuteness. I wish I had a pet when I was younger.
  4. Crying feels awful at the time but relieves the pain afterwards.
    Not crying when you need to will make you feel far worse. Let it out.
  5. Avoid people who speak negatively of others. They may say the same of you.
    You’re never ‘safe’ on their side. They can turn against you. Are you strong enough not to care?
  6. Beware of the green monster named jealousy. It can choke you and transform you into another little green monster.
    First, it’s just, “Oh I wish I were in your place!” Then it changes to, “Why do you get all these good things and I don’t get anything? This is unfair!”
  7. Being bullied earlier in life prepares you for hardships ahead.
    Ideally, I’d like the happiest childhood but sometimes you end up having the meanest people around you. Don’t give up. At least I won’t have a personal life crisis now or later.
  8. Boys are easy to get into trouble, girls will hold a grudge forever.
    If a boy picks on you, you can tell the teacher and the issue will be resolved. If a girl picks on you and you report her, she’ll hold a grudge forever. Watch out for her revenge.
  9. Drama/acting/theatre classes are a great way to get everyone out of their comfort zones.
    I’m still shy and I still get stage fright but drama classes have allowed me to be someone else and to learn what it’s like to be in people’s shoes. Furthermore, you get to be silly!
  10. What is a friend?
    Whereas Facebook applies a very liberal meaning to ‘friend’ and ‘friendship’, I’ve learned that just because someone is nice to you or you’ve enjoyed some good times with him/her, that ‘someone’ could just be an ‘acquaintance’. I used to call everyone a friend – as long as we had already been introduced and had enjoyed at least one conversation, however long or short. More recently, I’ve tried to be more cautious. Now everyone is an acquaintance. I wait for others to call me a friend. This could take a long time but thankfully, Germany already trained me for that.
  11. Joining and deleting Facebook were the best things I’ve done.
    During my 5.5 years on Facebook, I was able to reconnect with friends from Primary 3 to High School – all around the world – and to connect with new ‘friends’ from university and elsewhere. Keeping in touch became much easier and the first year on FB helped me through university. Leaving Fb, however, also brought me so much freedom from TMI (too much information) posts and all the unnecessary drama. Everyone else can continue to complain about privacy invasion. Furthermore, I will no longer have to be forced to accept people’s friendship requests. 😉
  12. Twitter is faster & better than Facebook
    Waiting for updates on Facebook, in the newspapers, on news sites, and the television is too slow. Twitter is the fastest way to find out the latest updates (for now?).
  13. The less you are on social media, the better.
    You’ll have more to talk about later. You’ll notice more things around you. Plus, you can take a break from drama tweets. 😉
  14. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is fashion.
    Everyone is a fashionista if they want to be one. Everyone has a style. I’ve learned that elegance and chic today is broader than what I’d used to imagine it to be. There are clothes that I dislike that the world loves and things that I like that others don’t care for. Who cares. Own your style. Fashion faux pas? Who’s dictating this?
  15. You don’t have to be beautiful to be dated.
    I used to think that the only way you’ll find a date is if you’re pretty. If you aren’t, you have no chance of having anyone fall in love with you. Well, I was wrong. Turns out men (and women) will go for anyone. Everyone has different tastes. Some do go for the drop-dead-gorgeous. Some go for brains. Some go for humour. Some have no idea how it all happened, they just ended up together. There’s a someone for everyone.
  16. The secret to feeling young is to surround yourself with older people.
    Surround yourself with anyone who’s older than you – someone who’s a few years older, your parents’ peers, or your grandparents’ peers. You’ll feel VERY young. You have YEARS ahead. None of this I’m-so-old nonsense in your 20’s. Are you ancient at age 30?
  17. You can’t see yourself in 5 years. Or 10 years for that matter.
    “Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?” I hate those questions. How am I supposed to know? My whole life has been inconsistent and unpredictable. I did plan for the next 5, 10, 50+ years but I can tell you that life threw me so many wonderful surprises. If there were no disasters, no economic crises, and if I were super rich – if life were boring – maybe I would be able to get to where I see myself in 5 years. It doesn’t mean that I won’t try to pursue what I love. I’d still rather answer, “We’ll see where life takes me!”
  18. Until you’re in your 30’s, people don’t take you seriously in your 20’s.
    At least that’s what I figured out after I had graduated from university. Why not temp (try out different jobs) and travel in the meantime? Then your resume will look impressive.
  19. Volunteering jobs can be far more enjoyable, rewarding and educating than paid jobs.
    Aside from university & my exchange years, the next happiest memories for me are from volunteering. I met so many wonderful people. Received lots of wisdom from them. Learned more about homelessness, children, seniors, international organisations. Sometimes I want to put down ‘volunteer’ as my dream job.
  20. University are the best years of your life.
    That’s what I had been told before and during first year of university. They were right. I met so many people with like interests. There were hundreds of clubs for activities that I got to try (e.g. equestrian) and volunteer with. I got to know my professors. Oh and exchange year – getting the opportunity to travel and be a student in a foreign university was the best of those years!
  21. You are always learning something new.
    You can get a PhD or be the smartest person in the world but you’ll always be learning something new.
  22. Having a roommate can teach you a lot about yourself and how you deal with others.
    There are things you’ve never noticed or realised about yourself that your roommate will notice. We always try to show our good side to others. Perhaps even our good or best friends don’t see the other side to us. Our roommates are like siblings – they can be the best or the worst. Just make room for improvements when you need to and learn to communicate properly.
  23. Learning about your personality will help you and those around you.
    I was never good at expressing myself when I was little. I knew I was me but those around me couldn’t understand me. Learning about my personality through personality tests, horoscopes and the zodiac (whatever was related to me, that is), and from my parents helped me realise why I behaved the way I did: because I was born that way. Knowing that about myself, I can tell others this is who I am and if they don’t like it, blame it on the month and year I was born. And my ancestors. 😛
  24. Smiling can make a world of difference – to you and those around you.
    Just smile. 🙂