Tagged with " vancouver"
Feb 25, 2009 -

Bravely Forth Into the Ghetto


I think I deserve a ‘I stopped at a red light at East Hastings and Main and lived to tell the tale’ bumper sticker. *sheepish grin*

After all the worry and planning I realised that I was better off just going through this intersection than trying to contour it. East Hastings is a busy thoroughfare and it was rush hour; I figured that I was safer there in my car than wandering around blindly in neighbouring streets. I was accosted by a very aggressive squeegee guy, but I managed to convey through the glass that he had better back off.

East Hastings at highway 1 (a non scary section of this ill-famed thoroughfare)

East Hastings at highway 1 (a non scary section of this ill-famed thoroughfare)

Driving west on East Hastings was everything I’d been told it would be, a subtle descent into hell. I have seen some very scummy American slums and this is the first place in Canada that even remotely compares to the bad neighbourhoods I’ve been in south of the 49th parallel. Nothing I read about East Hastings and Main was exaggerated and I was very grateful to be in my car (albeit a target of one with a bright colour and an out of province licence plate!) and not on foot!

My colleagues all advised me to take public transit, but I am glad that I decided to drive. Majel has a hard time in the GVR for some reason, so I missed a couple of turns, but if it hadn’t been for that, I would have made it to my friend’s hotel in 40 minutes flat. I still squeaked in in under an hour when I’d been told it would take at least an hour and fifteen minutes! I parked at the hotel, which had better rates than I would have expected. My friend and I were so glad to see each other and we marveled that we were walking in downtown Vancouver of all places together!

For dinner, we hiked to Tanpopo, a sushi restaurant, where we had a great meal! We went for the ‘all you can eat’ option and let’s just say that we ate ALL we could eat. 😀 The food was awesome! There is a large selection of items on this menu and you pick the ones you want; they prepare enough portions for the number of diners. I’m more familiar with the ‘typical’ sushi restaurant menu, so I took the lead, but we did try a few items blindly. The real winners tonight were prawn gyoza (dumplings), salmon teriyaki (salmon baked with teriyaki sauce), and salmon sashimi (raw salmon, which I like with a bit of pickled ginger and soy sauce). Neither one of us liked the seafood fried rice and my friend wasn’t fond of the nori-wrapped scallop cones because she doesn’t like nori (a seaweed), while I loved them… because I love nori!

My friend’s hotel is on Robson Street, which I firmly intend to revisit as it is filled with quirky boutiques and restaurants! Getting there from home, or home from there, is a non-issue since it’s the same route I’d take to go to Stanley Park. In fact, I didn’t need Majel to get home tonight.

Driving home, I discovered soon as we passed the Massie tunnel in Richmond that I’d been afraid of the wrong thing.

We’ve been having gorgeous weather the last few days, but it hasn’t lasted. We got snow tonight and freezing temperatures and highway 99 became a sheet of ice. I took a full hour to drive the 20 kilometres I had left to go, passing at least a dozen cars in the ditch. People out here simply don’t know how to drive in these conditions. I geared down to second, slow enough for me to be able to stop on the snowy shoulder if I started to glide, glued my eyes to the road ahead, and just crawled all the way home.

So, I’m here safe and sound where it is freezing because I ran out of propane about five minutes after I turned on the furnace. :headdesk: There is of course no way I’m going back out there, so I’m hoping that the electric heater will be enough to keep us cozy tonight.

What a week I’ve had: crossing a suspension bridge (THREE times), experiencing East Hastings and Main, and successfully navigating my car down a 20km sheet of black ice. Can anyone recommend a good place in Vancouver to learn skydiving because I think that’s where I’m at now. 😀

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British Columbia, Canada, Communications & Electronics, Driving, GPS, Nice Folks, Propane, Restaurants, Scary Stuff, Social, Technical, Travel, Weather    4 Comments
Jan 19, 2009 -

Stanley Park

World famous Stanley Park is located at the northern tip of the city of Vancouver. It is the largest city-operated park in Canada and the third largest in all of North America.  It is a 1,000 acre (405 hectare) urban oasis and the only thing I’ve always known I’d want to see if I ever made it to Vancouver. Among its many attractions are the totem poles and the Vancouver Aquarium.

Well, the weather’s been improving and been alternating between sun and fog, so I decided that today was going to be The Day. I was going to brave Vancouver and visit Stanley Park!

First decision to make was how to get there. I really wanted to use the Skytrain, but Stanley Park is huge and its shuttle doesn’t run in the winter. If I wanted to see anything, I’d have to go by car.

The drive wasn’t that bad, actually (thanks, Majel!), and I had a lovely morning in this beautiful park. I’m going to go back on a nicer day so I can get some proper shots of the city. The fog over the ocean was really thick this morning!

The aquarium was okay. I had a nice time and saw some cool things but I’ve been spoiled by some of the best aquariums our continent has to offer, so it takes a lot to wow me now when I visit such a facility. I think that what I will remember most about the Vancouver Aquarium is the beluga whales!

The most memorable moment of the day was when I came across a couple arguing in Mandarin about what they were seeing in the fog:

Lady: Shi Lionsgate Bridge! (It’s the Lionsgate Bridge!)

Man: Bu shi Lionsgate Bridge! (It’s NOT the Lionsgate Bridge!)

Back and forth for a whole minute until I had enough and exclaimed: “SHI Lionsgate!” Then, off their stunned gaze “Wode hanyu pu xin.” (My Chinese sucks) Whodathunk my 15 weeks of Mandarin lessons back in 1997 would come in handy one day? 😀

Please check out the Stanley Park page for pictures. 🙂

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British Columbia, Canada, Travel    4 Comments
Jan 2, 2009 -


In my (albeited limited) world view, Vancouver is the Los Angeles of Canada, the dark, nasty, don’t get off at the wrong exit or risk a violent death, city, the Gotham of Tim Burton or Chris Nolan. I’m not that timid. I’ve survived Chicago’s South Side, New York’s Washington Park at midnight, Ottawa’s Market after dark, riding the Montreal métro with skinheads, playing chicken with Hells Angels in Gatineau, getting lost in downtown Baltimore, even wandering around the bad parts of Calgary (Calgary has bad parts?). Hell, I’ve even survived a trip to Los Angeles… and that’s what’s not helping the Vancouver situation!

Surprised? 😀

Like with Los Angeles, I know there is a lot to see and do in Vancouver, but, like with Los Angeles, getting around is the issue. In LA, I was advised to not walk around, drive unless I knew where I was going, or take public transportation. I think this left taxis? I wound up driving straight to my hotel on Sunset Boulevard and walking between it and the famous Hollywood sites like the Kodak theatre (even though I’d been advised to not even walk those twenty or so blocks). After less than a day there, I was so exhausted from being on my guard all the time that I just left without going beyond Hollywood (nasty place) when I would have enjoyed doing a studio tour or even just visiting the Griffith Observatory. Looking back, I realise that I would have needed a native guide.

Same thing with Vancouver, it seems, and especially Surrey! Surrey gets a very bad rap; you wouldn’t believe the number of people who told me not to go to Surrey and to especially not be out in Surrey after dark! Last night, I did go out, taking two main streets to go to Walmart and back. Tonight, I’d like to go to a movie, but I have no idea which theatre is in an okay part of town. I’ll need to speak with the very friendly camphost here and ask her what her recommendations are.

Also like in Los Angeles, traffic is absolutely terrible here, maybe even worse than Toronto, but, of course, not nearly as bad as Montreal (because no place in the US or Canada has traffic worse than Montreal).

So, I’m here and really excited and happy to be here but shocked to discover that here is just as scary as I expected it to be!

At least, the RV park is a lovely, non-threatening, bubble. 😀

My first order of the day for tomorrow, then, is to have a chat with the camphost, descarify myself, and come up with one activity for each of  Saturday and Sunday that will get me comfortable with this city!

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Alberta, British Columbia, California, Campgrounds, Canada, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ontario, Personal, Quebec, Scary Stuff, Travel, USA    8 Comments