We arrived in Vancouver Friday morning at 8:30. Public transportation to downtown and our hotel was real easy. We got a great package deal through travelocity.com, under the “sale” section. I highly recommend checking it out if you are planning a vacation. We stayed at the Hyatt which was in a great location on Burrard Street, only 5 blocks from the Seawall Park area (in the picture) and 3 blocks from Robson Street, a popular shopping street.
Once checked into our hotel, we were off and running to explore Vancouver. What a beautiful and clean city!!! We made our way over to China Town where we had lunch at Hon’s Wun Tun House, 280 Keefer St. We both had large bowls of their homemade noodles with veggies. Very tasty.
Leaving the restaurant an older gentleman came up to us and started chatting. When he found out we were Americans, he wanted to know what we thought of Obama. We told him that we thought he was doing a good job. It has been interesting traveling throughout the world and getting feedback from others on US politics. It is our experience that the world loves Obama and we have noticed less hostility toward Americans where we go. He then said that he thought we would have been for Hillary….oh my gosh, for those of you who don’t know, we personally cannot stand Hillary and told him that. He wanted to know why and we told him that as well. It was just an interesting conversation.
Chinatown has a lovely Chinese Garden, Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park. It is based on four elements to create the ying-yang balance….rock, water, plants and architect. In order to create this garden like an original Ming dynasty garden, 52 master craftsmen from Suzhou, China were brought over to work along side Canadians. One note of interest, is that no nails, screws or glue were used in the construction. It is all done through precise joinery, a true art form, no? It was a pleasing little oasis in the hub of a major city. Pictures are posted on my webshots page that you can access by clicking on the connection to the right.
We walked through the Gastown area which reminded us much of the Old Port in Portland, Maine. It has recently been renovated…they are doing much to improve the city as they are hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. Gastown was an area of shops, restaurants, and brick sidewalks in old warehouse buildings. The streets were lined with gas style street lamps and hanging flower baskets. It was a pretty area.
However, to get to that area, we passed through the drug/homeless area around Hasting Street. It was a pretty rough place and one that I don’t believe will be there much longer as there was construction happening there. I think that with the Olympics, the people who call that area “home” will be squeezed out or relocated. Who knows…..
Another observation about Vancouver is we don’t think the message has arrived that smoking causes cancer. We could not believe how many people smoked…. Plus, I don’t think the Red Cross gets many donations of blood as everyone seemed to have some kind of a tattoo. My gosh, some of them were downright gaudy…of course, that is my personal opinion as I have seen very few tattoos in my life that I have liked. Tattoos are very popular in Vancouver!!!
Stanley Park is another gem of Vancouver. It is 1,000 acres that the forefathers of Vancouver had the foresight to set aside. We spent quite a bit of time walking along the seawall and hiking the various trails. It is a virgin forest with massive cedar trees. One thing that happened in Stanley Park, on our first night no less was I got stung by a bee. We were walking along the seawall in the open. It was very windy and the bee evidently got tangled in my hair by the back of my neck. That sucker hurt, but all I can say was thank goodness it stung me and not David. I think it was God’s “gentle” reminder to carry David’s bee kit. David is seriously allergic to bees. Once stung, he has about 10 minutes before he goes into convulsions. Neither one of us had thought to bring his bee kit as it was still too cool in Saskatoon for bees. Vancouver had beautiful flowers and bees! I just prayed that our angels and God would protect us the rest of the trip. Which thankfully, He did.
One morning, we hopped the bus for Granville Island. There is a great public market there. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, crafts, food vendors and entertainment. It was a great place to get breakfast and wander around. Not far from the market was this great houseboat neighborhood. We saw a few houseboats in the marinas along with this neighborhood. So, it is now on my “bucket list” to live in a houseboat. How cool would that be???
From Granville, we took a ferry across False Creek to the west side of Vancouver. From the landing, we walked along Beach Ave and found the doggie beach. Continuing along Beach Ave, we saw the beaches of Vancouver. Did mention that the weather was beautiful the whole time we were there? It must have been in the mid 70s everyday with lots of sunshine. We really enjoyed the sun, warmth and flowers….Saskatoon is slowly warming up and the lilacs are just blooming….that is how far “behind” everyone we are. Also, along our walk, we passed the Inukshuk monument. I just love these…the Inuit people of Canada’s arctic stacked rocks in the form us humans as guidepost across the tundra of the arctic. If I understand it correctly, once you looked through the legs you could see another inukshuk and that was the direction you needed to go in. I just think these formations are so neat. Also, this is one of the emblems for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Denman and Davies Street were a couple of fun streets to explore on the west end. We had dinner one night at Mr. Pickwicks’s Restaurant. It was a fish and chips place that was voted the best in Vancouver for several years. David’s fish and chips were great, my grill halibut was so-so. Plus, David had a locally brewed beer. It is Dead Frog….I am not a beer drinker, but I could easily drink this beer. It was so smooth!
We took the water taxi to North Vancouver and visited Lynn Canyon Park. It was another lovely virgin forest with a crystal clear brook running through the center of it. One of the attractions is the suspension bridge. That was fun. Capilano Suspension Bridge is a bigger tourist attraction in that area, but we thought that Lynn Canyon wouldn’t be so crowded. Plus, Lynn Canyon is free!
An amazing coincidence happened on our last day in Vancouver. We had gone to the Tim Hortons next door to the hotel for breakfast. We were wandering around the mall area before heading back to the hotel to check-out. On the escalator, David turned and looked behind him. The lady behind him said “David?” Are you ready for this…it was Marilyn who David worked with in Lima, Peru!!! Small world, no?
Life is good in Vancouver….from the multi-million dollar, high-rise condo buildings to the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Rolls Royces and don’t forget the amazing yachts that we saw. It was a wonderful trip and now, one of our favorite cities!