Local jet-setters Jim Gordon and Darren Parkman are living the dream
By Kristina Urquhart
Darren Parkman (left) and Jim Gordon (right) sample suds at Yaletown Brewing Co. When abroad, the guys enjoy tasting local libations, from cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley to fresh beer at the Guinness brewery in Ireland. Photo by KK Law
Imagine if your job were to hop a plane and travel the globe. Climbing Sydney’s Harbour Bridge? Check. Riding an elephant in Thailand? Been there, done that. One month, you’re harvesting grapes in an Italian vineyard. The next, you’re kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland.
It’s all in a day’s work for Jim Gordon and Darren Parkman, who have achieved all that and more as the stars of Shaw TV’s The Travel Guys. In nearly seven years, the duo has filmed 90 shows around the world; when they’re not off in some far-flung locale, they can be found right here in Vancouver. Both former radio personalities, they each write entertainment columns for local publications; Gordon is also a movie critic for CTV.
The Travel Guys was originally shot for local television station KVOS, then moved to Shaw TV a year later. Each episode, which takes more than a month to organize, is peppered with the pair’s trademark witty banter. They’ll also help you plan your vacation (or, at the least, get you dreaming about one) by telling you where to stay, what to do and what to avoid—all while highlighting the region’s cultural heart.
If you’re fantasizing about your next adventure, consider Australia. Sydney is the guys’ favourite place to visit. “It’s like a tropical London,” Parkman says. “It’s got the cool British thing, but there are parrots flying overhead, and it’s 80 degrees every day.” Other worthy destinations? Gordon and Parkman count Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain among their top picks.
The guys have had more than their fair share of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In China, they shot a sequence for their show from inside a panda cage. While they embraced the bear, Parkman explains, a trainer was off-camera holding a spear—in case the animal got a little too friendly. At an Alaskan hatchery, Parkman greeted visitors while dressed up as a giant salmon flapping around on a bench.
But there’s nothing quite like home sweet home. “You recognize how beautiful Vancouver is when you’re away,” Parkman says. Gordon agrees. “It has so much to offer,” he says. “I live downtown and I’m still amazed 15 years later when I look outside and see the mountains. It really is a world-class city.”
Gordon includes hiking the Grouse Grind trail on Grouse Mountain as one of his favourite Vancouver activities, as well as walking the seawall and enjoying jaunts to Whistler. The totem poles in Stanley Park are also a great attraction, says Parkman.
When it comes to local eats, the men champion the tastes of Italy. Gordon frequents Il Nido, an enclave tucked off Robson Street with a lovely patio, and Parkman favours the elegant Il Giardino di Umberto.
As for their next journey, well, it’s still under wraps. But Gordon says they’re eager to stamp their passports for South America, which they still haven’t crossed off their list.
So much globe-trotting, so little time.