We had originally intended spending a couple of nights in the city of Victoria, on Vancouver Island, but after re-arranging our schedule, decided that Vancouver would be the place to explore. Having not been in Victoria we can’t say whether we made the better choice…but we can say that we certainly enjoyed being in Vancouver!…..if that’s not all too complicated!
We were worried when our travel agent suggested a hotel on Robson Street….right in the centre of Vancouver. We needn’t have been concerned! If you had looked at the Google street link on the last post you might have seen the trees on what is a very-attractive walk-way…..and, yes, the drivers were courteous there, too!
Our Hotel, the Blue Horizon, was a bit like Dr Who’s Tardis…you entered what looked like a small shop, which then expanded to fill the space required. As with all our accommodation, the facilities were excellent and we could look out over the towering hotels and offices. All we could hear at night was the gentle whirr of the air-conditioning plant (at least it was at the beginning).
Having unpacked for the last time before our cruise, we went out for a walk to get a feel for the city. Lots of familiar fashion shops were noted by the Lady, but I kept her moving!
But where do you eat in a foreign city? Do you go back to the Hotel, where you know the kind of quality you can expect, do you stick with an international brand of restaurant, or try to find a ‘local’ speciality eaterie? We plonked for an Urban Cafe….we didn’t really know what we were letting ourselves in for, but you grow courageous with age! The menu on the wall was no help as it used strange names and descriptions, so we just went to have a look at what was in the chill cabinet. We ended up with some kind of toasted ‘thing’, coffee, and a rice pudding under another name…..dead exciting!
My main problem with moving about so much is that I find it hard to relax and get a decent night’s sleep. The rooms have all been very satisfactory, the beds have been comfortable, I have never eaten anything dis-agreeable, and I have not had excessive alcohol…however I did have the problem of not getting back to sleep OK after wakening at 3am with the gentle whirr of the air-(bloody) conditioning!!!!!
The Sudoku book was my companion for some time that night but I still felt fine when we went down for a Canadian breakfast. Again the menu appeared complex with all combinations of bacon, sausage, egg, fried bread, waffles, black pudding coming up separately! What’s wrong with ‘Full Breakfast’ ?
Suitably sated, we decided that after a bit of minimal shopping at Safeway, for AA batteries (the digital cameras consumed them in great numbers!), we had to see the lovely harbour area on the way to Stanley Park…….
It looks at first view a cluttered skyline, but when on the ground one certainly does not get that impression.
Stanley Park is curiously shaped when viewed from above, looking a bit like a sea-horse’s head, with Beaver Lake forming the eye! It was opened in 1888 and named after Lord Stanley of Preston, who was the Governor General. It is over 1000 acres in size, with 120 miles of roads and paths. There were special lanes for cyclists, roller-bladers, and pedestrians, and so we had no problems from them. There was no way we could hope to see any more than a small section of it in one day as we wanted to walk as much as possible.
It was possible to have a horse-driven carriage through the park, but with a cost somewhat between that a Gondolier in Venice, and the Greek National Debt, we decided that ‘a pied’ was a good idea. We got to a shop near the Totem Pole area, when it decided to rain, so in we went, and bought a small umbrella, and some small jewellery for presents. Unfortunately the photos we took of the totem poles were not worth recording because of the torrential rain (that’s my excuse anyway!) but you can imagine a number of such edifices with explanations. After a lunch of sandwiches from the shop (quite good, actually!) we moved on to the park, proper.
Stanley himself must have cut a fine figure, as his statue shows him throwing his arms to the heavens when he officially named it, avering that it should be for the enjoyment of all peoples.
However, when we saw the statue, it was clothed in a shirt depicting the Canadian ice-hockey team the Canucks, who were in some final of ice-hockey against what I believe was an American team….so no rivalry there!! They eventually lost to the Americans causing rioting inVancouver….so it’s not just in the UK it happens!
For those who have visited the waterfront in Copenhagen (there I am, name-dropping again!) the iconic image is Langeline (the Little Mermaid). Well, Vancouver has one of its own (Girl in a Wet-suit)….
…….again with a Canucks’ tee-shirt!
We misjudged the size of the Park, and turned-off far too early, but luckily saw the Giant Redwood trees. We then found ourselves back at the water and followed the walkway back through the harbour, imagining where we could go if we only had one of the myriad vessels tied-up.
Lady of the House is (I hasten to add) no tippler, but it was her who suggested that we acquire a small amount of liquid refreshment for our pre-dinner snifter on the ship. We had seen no alcohol on sale in the shops or supermarkets, so, when returning from the Harbour to the Hotel and seeing a shop window full of cans and bottles, we HAD to enter!
There was a good selection, and I discussed it with a security guard, who then informed me of the concept of Government Liquor Stores, where they are able to have an element of control with minimum pricing of alcohol units….so no great bargains here I’m afraid!
We got packing done and then out for our final meal on Canadian soil, and ended-up in a recommended Thai Restaurant!
And so our short sojourn in Vancouver came to an end. We should have planned to be there longer and explored Stanley Park properly (maybe not the whole 120 miles!). If you are a cyclist, then we would suggest that you hire one and see around the Park properly. We also did not get to see the thriving Chinatown. If (and it is a big IF) i could be persuaded to again take the long flight, Vancouver is one place I could visit again.
And so we were ready to face the open sea next day on our Alaskan Cruise, but before that we had to get a good night’s sleep….ZZZZZZZZZ