A Travellerspoint blog

Vancouver

Day 4

sunny -1 °C
View Canadian Adventure on jrp_pedal's travel map.

Monday 12 Dec 2011

Of course I woke up early – force of habit. But we had a leisurely start, breakfasting on cherries and a toasted granola-type mix we had bought at the markets the day before. Our goal today was Grouse Mountain, and the weather was fine and clear, so it was a good day for it. So, our favourite trolley bus took us to the Seabus terminal; the Seabus took us across to North Vancouver, and another bus took us to the Skyride, which took us on the scary but spectacular gondola ride to the top of the mountain. Skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities cruised around any open area. We took the ‘sleigh’ ride – big sled pulled by a snow-plough kind of vehicle – just for something different.
We tested out boots in the snow – they passed – took a look at Santa’s reindeer, decided against taking any ski lift, and finally lunched indoors with a fabulous view back down the mountain and across to the city.

On our return, we stopped off at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, however, we could not go in without paying and since we only wanted to look at it – certainly not step onto it or the cliff walk – we saved the price of those tickets and took the next bus down.

After a couple of hours catching up on emails, blogging and downloading photos, we hopped on another trolley bus to Stanley Park to experience the Bright Lights of Christmas. Snacking on popcorn, churros and roasted chestnuts kept our tummies happy while we oohed and aahed at the lights. Back at the hotel we used up our other two-for-one deals for drinks and appetisers – certainly did not need a full meal.

Posted by jrp_pedal 16:37 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver

Day 3

overcast 3 °C
View Canadian Adventure on jrp_pedal's travel map.

Sunday 11 Dec 2011

Another early start – we had to be across at Granville Island by 9am to start our Edible BC (British Columbia) tour which we had found and booked online. Using a couple of maps and Robyn’s trusty iPad, we found our way on foot to the waterfront to take a False Creek ferry – little cross-river ferries that take a maximum of a dozen people at a time. Our guide for the tour was Theresa, and she took us to at least twelve artisan produce outlets within the Granville Island public markets where we sampled their gourmet wares. The treats included handmade doughnuts, chocolates, cheeses, and sausage, a secret recipe hot breakfast mix, cherry chocolate pannetone, pain au chocolat, olives, maple salmon bites and a very flavoursome chai tea accompanied by enlightening education on all things to do with tea at the Granville Island Tea Co. We finished up back at Edible at the Market (Edible BC’s own outlet) where we sampled the unusual birch syrup. Two hours of delicacies – definitely a highlight.

On our own again we went back into the markets to relocate our favourites from the tour and purchase some of their finest, for later. We also bought two pounds of cherries, one white and one red, and Robyn managed to obtain a recipe for chocolate coated brandied cherries from one of the chocolatiers.

False Creek ferries took us back across the creek and we walked up to the nearest skytrain station, going downtown. I have to say Robyn is becoming a veteran of public transport in spite of her initial uncertainty about its effectiveness and ease of use. We strolled around the Gastown area, admired the steam clock and allowed temptation to lure us into the Lamplighter’s Pub. I sampled an apricot flavoured beer – different and quite pleasant. Next stop was the Vancouver Lookout, via the exterior glass elevator, and a fabulous view of the sunset.

A trolley-bus took us home – there’s a stop right outside the hotel. We managed to pick a very well-located place to stay - close to water, park, public transport and eateries to suit a variety of palates and budgets. After three days full of fun, frivolity and food, we gave ourselves an early night and the promise of a sleep-in.

Posted by jrp_pedal 16:35 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Vancouver

Day Two

semi-overcast 5 °C
View Canadian Adventure on jrp_pedal's travel map.

Saturday 10 Dec 2011

Day two’s plan was thrown out when we called Grayline Tours the day before to confirm our trip to Vancouver Island on Monday 12th – turns out they need a minimum of 4 people to run the tour and we were the only takers for Monday, and would we like to go Saturday instead. So we agreed to a 9am start (after a very long day and experiencing a little jet lag). It turned out to be a good decision – it stayed cloudy in Vancouver but was fine over on the island. Our fellow-tourers were Corinne and Damian from Sydney and Gordon was our very knowledgeable driver. Victoria is a popular destination and we chatted to four lovely young ladies who were going over there for a Christmas party (including overnight accommodation) hosted by their employer.

We had a couple of hours to wander around the centre of Victoria so we strolled through the Empress Hotel (one of the famous Fairmont group) which was hosting a Christmas tree competition. Such a variety of styles and themes from Grinches to Paris plus the more traditional red and green. On a quest up the street we found the same coin and estate jewellery store where I had purchased an gold ring when I was there with Jim in 2007. Amazingly there was a similar ring for sale so I was able to take the first step in replacing what was stolen from me last June.

West coast chowder was our choice for lunch and what an excellent choice it was – thick, creamy and full of seafood bits.

Back on the bus we headed for Butchart Gardens which has a spectacular winter lights display. The theme this year is the Twelve Days of Christmas so the challenge is to find all the displays that match the song. We found about half – loved the pipers piping. Sadly I haven’t the skill with my camera to do justice to the display.

Posted by jrp_pedal 10:25 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Vancouver

Day one

sunny 3 °C
View Canadian Adventure on jrp_pedal's travel map.

Friday 9 Dec 2011

Day one of my Canadian adventure with my friend Robyn (former work colleague from Telstra days).
I woke before the alarm which always takes off some of the pressure of transport timetables. In spite of that, I just made it to the station as the train arrived. I didn’t quite have time to finish purchasing my ticket so the next person to use the vending machine would have found a paid for ticket ready to collect. As it turned out I needn’t have bothered because the barriers were open anyway at Southern Cross Station. I finally started feeling excited on the train – we’d been planning this trip for so long it just seemed that the planning would continue and that the actuality was still some way ahead.

All went well with my flight to Sydney and I met Robyn when her flight from Brisbane arrived about 20 minutes later. Our baggage was booked all the way to Vancouver so we just had ourselves to hurry over to the international terminal. And there we thought we had reached an impasse. Air Canada had a seat for Robyn on flight AC34 but no seat for me. Unbelievable! We had booked and paid for our flights in April and were supposed to be linked at travelling companions. I had to go on standby, along with about a dozen or so other unhappy-looking travellers. Finally we received good news and a ticket for express boarding. One more hitch – Robyn temporarily mislaid her boarding pass – and we were in the queue to board our flight. Our seats were about 8 rows apart, however the woman next to Robyn was happy to swap my aisle seat for her interior seat.

Vancouver was fine and clear – we kept saying to each other ‘no rush’ which meant we were a little behind the others going through customs and quarantine and Robyn was pulled aside and pointed in another direction. I was allowed to go too. It’s still a mystery to us because nothing happened other than our passports were taken, the customs/quarantine officer consulted with a colleague, then returned our documents and waved us through. Perhaps they have a quota for examining a number of arrivals from different demographics.

Public transport was the order of the day. A Skytrain ride followed by a C23 bus took us right to the door of the Best Western Plus Sands hotel, just a short walk from English Bay. By this time we were starving, and it was still too early for check-in. So we had a deliciously filling brunch of traditional pancakes with maple syrup. We got a room with a view and right across the street we saw English Bay Bike Rentals. Stanley Park is at the end of the street so what else would we do but hire a couple of bicycles and do the 9 or so km round the park with frequent stops to admire the scenery, photograph the wildlife (I still think squirrels are cute) and birdlife.

Next stop was the pub on the corner to sample the local drinks menu. I tried a very tasty organic beer and we shared a plate of asian style ribs. We could have skipped the ribs because our dinners later were huge – still not used to the larger portions over here. In addition we had a two for one dessert deal and we were both struggling at the end.

Posted by jrp_pedal 10:20 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

(Entries 26 - 29 of 29) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6]