Tagged with " vancouver"
Apr 14, 2009 -

Riding the Knight Bus

We got a late start on an absolutely beautiful Easter Monday. I’d suggested walking through Gastown and my friend found a jump on, jump off bus tour that started there, so we decided to do that.

After parking, we strolled down Water Street to the ‘Big Bus‘ tour headquarters. As it turned out, there would be a bus leaving momentarily, so our timing was perfect. The 35$ tickets are valid for two days. We would only use them this afternoon, so we were offered a free gelato as compensation, which was appreciated (and very delicious!).

The tour was excellent in that we got a chance to pretty much see all of Vancouver–Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, English Bay, Granville Island, Robson and Davie Streets, and on, and on… We just did a full loop back to Gastown without getting off because of time issues. For someone with only a few days in Vancouver, this tour is a great way to see the city! My only complaints are about the jerky stops and the fact that the audio was often inaudible.

Gastown is historic Vancouver and it has really kept its old world charm, with cobblestone streets and buildings still showing their Victorian façades. The city of Vancouver grew up around this area, becoming Granville before taking on the name by which it is known today.

Vancouver’s Chinatown is the second largest in North America, after San Francisco’s. It is the least grimy Chinatown I have visited (compared to that of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal). It resides essentially a block away from Gastown, but is separated from it by the infamous Downtown Eastside. Our tour guide had very specific instructions for how to walk safely from Chinatown to Gastown. As an aside, I drove down Main all the way past East Hastings and I could not believe the difference in how the area looks when you approach it from Chinatown with a view of the water and mountains in the distance! One of the most interesting things we saw  in Chinatown was the Sam Kee building, which is the narrowest building in the world!

English Bay is on the northwestern tip of the city and boasts several palm-tree lined beaches. It is a beautiful area and host to the annual Vancouver Polar Bear swim!

Robson and Davie Streets are vibrant urban neighbourhoods filled with unique shops. The latter is also Vancouver’s ‘gay village.’ We’d already done Robson, so we ended our day on Davie Street where we tried another all you can eat sushi restaurant. It was quite good and I am now firmly convinced that spicy tuna cones are the yummiest thing ever concocted (vinegared rice, seaweed, raw tuna, and chili; who would think that would be so insanely delicious?!). My friend is now as addicted to sushi as I am and we’re having it for a third time on her last evening here!

I took lots of pictures, some of them of distinct buildings and others which simply captured the stunning diversity of Vancouver’s architecture. I never thought I would find a city more architecturally beautiful than Chicago, but I have. I hope you enjoy this wonderful photo gallery and warn you that Library Square will take your breath away.

I have fallen in love with this beautiful, vibrant, compact city that seems a part of nature, like it grew from the same soil as the redwoods and snowcapped mountains, rather than having these things regrow around it.

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Apr 11, 2009 -

Totem Poles, Parrots, and Fish

Today’s story can best be told in pictures, so this entry serves as only a guide to today’s extensive photo gallery.

First stop on this rainy Saturday morning was the U(niversity of) B(ritish) C(olumbia) Museum of Anthropology. It has been undergoing major renovations for the past six months and only a few exhibits are open. It was still a fantastic tour of BC First Nations art (in the form of lots and lots and lots of totem poles) as well as an interesting exhibit on tribal tattoos and one about ceramicware.

Next, we were off to the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. Thankfully, the sky was only spitting by this point and even hinted at clearing up. Several people had mentioned that this conservatory was a ‘must see’ and I have to agree!

We ended the day in Steveston, which was a much more happening place than it was the last time I went! We walked around, checking out all the kitschy souvenir shops before collapsing in a coffee shop where my friend had a pot of tea and I savoured two (!) caffe macchiatos until we felt that we could walk to a restaurant for dinner. We had initially planned to get fish & chips at a stand recommended by Croft, but it was too cold to eat outside. So, we decided on a sitdown dinner at the Shady Island, where we had a most satisfactory meal of cod fish & chips and a very nice coleslaw. I also indulged in a beer. I don’t know how those fish & chips compared to other Steveston joints, but I was very happy with them.

I am happy to report that I can now get around Vancouver with a minimum of GPS reliance and wrong turns and that a city that once seemed scary and hostile now feels like home.

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Apr 10, 2009 -

The Difference Between Full-Time RVing and Tourism

Today, I had the great joy of showing my friend some of my favourite sites in the Vancouver area. How lovely it is to stay long enough in one place to go back and re-explore sites you enjoyed!

We had a really, really full day. The weather cooperated beautifully, being just warm enough to be comfortable, with a mix of sun and clouds.

Late morning, we took off for Lynn Canyon. It was warmer today than the last time I went, but not by much; it gets cool up there in North Vancouver in the rain forest! It was wonderful hiking weather and we earned the picnic lunch I’d packed.

We then headed to Stanley Park via the Lions’ Gate Bridge. The park was very full this time around, so I felt very fortunate to find parking quickly. We were just heading up to the aquarium to see the killer whale statue when my friend noticed a horse drawn trolley that seemed just about ready to take off. We learned that it was a one hour tour that would take us to all the sites we wanted to see, so we decided to get on, figuring that it would easier than trying to find parking at each location.

I’ll pause here to address the issue of horse drawn tours being exploitative. I had a theory about this before I got on and it was confirmed by the driver who addressed the issue head on. The horses pulling these trolleys are big draft horses which have very little use in our day and age. A lot of these older animals get sent to the glue or jell-o factory. The company running the tours rescues these horses, gives them purpose and needed exercise, and allows them a dignified retirement.

The tour was fantastic and well worth the 28.50$ per person. Our guide was funny and an excellent storyteller. We learned that Stanley Park was originally called Duck Head Point (because it really does look like the head of a duck!) and was home to ‘squatters’ consisting of minorities–Chinese, Hawaiian, Métis, etc. The government used this point as a strategic military location for a long time and when that purpose was no longer required, they wanted to develop the land seeing as Vancouver (population 2,000 at the time!) was booming. Real estate speculators were worried that the introduction of so much new land would devalue other properties, so some backroom dealing was done to turn Duck Head Point into a park. Of course, all the ‘squatters’ were expropriated without compensation. It is a sad story with a happy ending. Also, as Stanley Park used to be a logging area, all of the forest there is second regeneration growth, not primeval forest as some romantics like to believe.

After Stanley Park, we drove to nearby Denholm Street. My friend wanted to try sushi and I was eager to go back to Tanpopo, so I decided that its proximity to Stanley Park meant that was where we were destined to end up for dinner. We walked up and down Denholm for  a bit, popping into a bookstore where I found a remaindered book about the Chilkoot Pass!

Dinner was just as good as it was the last time I ate at Tanpopo and I added spicy tuna rolls to my repertoire. They are soooo yummy. My friend liked everything but the teriyaki salmon because it was too dry for her taste. Otherwise, she bravely sampled everything.  I must say I didn’t get anything too ‘weird’ as I didn’t want to turn her off suishi from the get go, and  I’m proud of her for having several pieces of salmon sashimi and ordering the prawn tempura on her own.

We ended our night with a dip in the park’s hot tub.

I put up some new pictures, including lovely shots of Vancouver’s skyline that I missed because of fog the first time I went to Stanley Park.

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