Around the world in 60 days

Mal and Tracy's adventures

Canada; Vancouver

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Monday 30th August 2004

It was a strange feeling to leave home this time, almost like leaving home for good. Perhaps it was because we seemed to have done so much more preparation than the last time, although I am sure it just felt like it.

Flight BA85. As dull as any other flight and slightly uncomfortable but it was all over in just 9 hours. Vancouver looked rather nice as we flew down round the bay to the airport on the edge of the large flat plain between the sea and the mountains. A couple of bus rides at C$2 each took us to downtown Vancouver where our hostel, the Cambie, seemed to be the oldest looking building around. An uninspiring room contained a bed and a window onto the noisy street below. It is strange to be feeling tired but not tired enough to sleep even after being up for 9 hours longer during a day.

Vancouver, Canada

Tuesday 31st August

For our C$22 room rate we even got breakfast of muffin & coffee. After that we headed out for Stanley Park which we had heard from a number of sources was well worth a visit. We headed in the wrong direction to start with and ended up in downtown's east side where homelessness, drugs and squalor were rife. It was an interesting detour but we soon turned about and headed west into the business district. Here the cafes are located in the basement areas of the office blocks so we stopped for lunch. Everywhere seems to be clean, neat and tidy but most of the architecture is new and a little dull.

Stanley Park is a lovely place and it is great to be out of the city. It is covered in trees and surrounded by water making it almost an island. There are lakes and beaches and paths all over the place to disperse the visitors.

We ended up walking all the way round which took a little longer than expected. On the way we saw a raccoon, a number of black squirrels and loads of tall, straight redwood trees.

There seemed to be no end of people cycling or roller-blading on the flat path made specially for them round the outside of the island. We took to the steep, quiet paths further inland where the smell of pine was strong but you could still hear the sound of the gentle waves lapping against the shore.

By the time we walked back along the landscaped gardens between the waterfront and the city it was getting quite late. The city looked beautiful in the twilight with twinkley lights all about. We stopped to watch the sea planes land in Coal Harbour and the chair lift moving up the mountain on the other side of the bay to the snow-less ski resort at the top.

Wednesday 1st September

Today we jumped on the No. 17 trolley bus to Granville Island and then west out to UBC (University of British Columbia) where the UBC botanical gardens were located. Half of the gardens were in a wood of Douglas Firs with a thick undergrowth of Rhododendrons and other shrubs between the paths. The plant labels were clearly marked by coloured streamers but I still did not bother to read them as I can never remember what they say anyway. Even if I didn't know all the names the foliage looked good and the perfumes were wonderful.

Halfway round the East Garden the sky went dark and the heavens rumbled. The monsoon, it would seem, had followed us from England. Fortunately the rain did not last long and we watched the swollen streams from the little wooden bridges in the woods.

About a mile and a half walk around the campus is the Nitobe Memorial garden. This is a Japanese garden created in memory of Dr. Nitobe who worked to build relations between the cultures of east and west. The rain only made the gardens look prettier.

Back at the hostel we met a team of 3 who had just finished a 3 month trip from the east coast of Canada all the way to the west coast following the same path as Alexander McKenzie who was the first person recorded to have done the trip before. It sounded like a fantastic journey but quite hard work with lots of canoeing and hiking.

Thursday 2nd September

We were slow to rise today as the brewery tour did not start till midday, you can understand why. The number 50 bus took us over a high bridge to Granville Island where the, wait for it, Granville Island brewery, has been since 1980 something. Some of the barley is imported from the UK which was something of a surprise and even the Kent hops are highly revered. Tasting time was the best bit and for some strange reason we ended up the last ones in the bar.

The area around the brewery used to be heavy industrial but as the city grew it has been taken over by cafes, restaurants, arts and crafts, and the Granville Island Public Market containing many stalls selling fruit, veg and hot snacks for lunch. We partook in a spot of lunch.

The sun was ablaze again in the afternoon so we took a stroll back over the Granville bridge to the main part of the city. The view from the top took in the shiny new apartment blocks, English Bay, Stanley Park and the mountains behind disappearing into the misty distance. Beaches stretched all up the coast to Stanley Park so we whiled the afternoon away walking, stopping for ice cream or to watch the sailing boats in the bay.

We ate a dinner of chicken curry for C$4 each at our favourite cafe. We seem to be spending less here than we thought we would.

Vancouver is a nice place. It feels comfortable. The people are nice, polite and friendly.

Friday 3rd September

This is our last day and we have to leave for the airport at 1pm so we take a walk down by the waterfront and watch the huge cruise liners take on supplies.

We start our journey from Vancouver at 1pm and in only 21 hours arrive in Auckland, New Zealand. It seems like a long time but on the old sailing ships it would have taken months.

Saturday 4th September

This day kind of slipped by unnoticed somehow ;-)

Sunday 5th September

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