Alaska Part Four - Vancouver

7th September, 1997
8th September, 1997
9th September, 1997
10th September, 1997

Sunday, 7th September, 1997

Drop Cap ocked today at 6.30 a.m. and we got up then to shower, pack our Globus bag and vacate the cabin. Since we were staying in Vancouver, ours was the last group to disembark at about 9.45. Luckily we had telephoned Barry and Jackie to say we would be somewhat later than we had originally thought. We struggled ashore, found our luggage, and on going through customs ran straight into Barry and Jackie who had just arrived.

Lambs photograph

Barry and Jackie Lamb, in Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Vancouver

Drop Cap e loaded everything into their car and headed off for Queen Elizabeth Gardens, stopping enroute for coffee at a White Spot restaurant.(A local chain) The Queen Elizabeth Gardens were very attractive with waterfalls, bridges and colourful flower beds and a conservatory, mock rainforest incorporating a collection of really colourful birds from all over, including a Major Mitchell galah. It was really lovely, but rather humid. It is a lovely day in Vancouver, sunny and bright and quite warm.

Conservatory, Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Vancouver photograph

Conservatory, Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Vancouver, Canada

Drop Cap fter a tour of the city highlights, Chinatown, Gastown, Stanley Park, we headed over the Lions Gate Bridge to West and North Vancouver. Jackie and Barry live in North Vancouver in an elevated house with lots of room, which they call basic floor plan. We had a scratch lunch of fresh rolls, cheese, cold meat, tomatoes and cucumber and pickles. Very nice too, then went off to the top of Mt.Seymour, a provincial park and ski area, not far from them.

Drop Cap he view was great, including the snow covered peak of Mt.Baker, in America, 100 miles away. Then we visited the little village of Deep Cove,very pretty seaside inlet with some trendy shops, arts and crafts, and a book and coffee shop, Neil's idea of heaven. Then, as it was getting late, they drove us into town to our hotel.

Drop Cap he Days Inn Downtown is an older hotel, with small rooms and no airconditioning. Fans and windows that actually open is what they have. It seems quite adequate. (We have been spoiled, really). We phoned Geoff and he was home and back to par (I hope) We sent him an e-mail from Barry's computer and hope he will reply. He says Neil has been very supportive. That's good. Then we walked to the Gastown area and had a lovely veal scallopini at an Italian restaurant opposite the Steam Clock. I'll describe Gastown later in the week. Walked back to the hotel and we are now about to crash. It's been another long day.

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Monday, 8th September, 1997

Capilano dam photograph

Capilano River, up from the Fish Hatchery, Vancouver

Drop Cap fter cashing a traveller's cheque this morning we were picked up shortly after eleven by Barry and Jackie. They whisked us off through Stanley Park to North Vancouver where we made our first stop at the Capilano Fish Hatchery. They breed salmon and trout and it was fascinating to see these fish leaping upriver, coming home to their hatchery. It was an interesting place. We went on to Cleveland Dam on the Capilano River which is one third of Vancouver's water supply.

Drop Cap hen, on to Grouse Mountain, which overlooks the whole of the city of Vancouver and lots of mountains. We went up the mountain (just Mac and me, they have done it lots of times and it isn't cheap) in the tramway cable car. At first I wasn't keen because I had been so scared at Banff at Sulphur Mountain, but these cars are much bigger, they can carry 100 people. There's safety in numbers. It was much smoother, no hair raising dangling in midair. On top of the mountain is a restaurant or two, gift shops, theatres etc. etc. We had some lunch up there and came down to where Jackie and Barry were waiting. Luckily they had eaten also so we went on.

Shannon Park photograph

Shannon Falls Provincial Park

Drop Cap decided I did NOT want to go on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It is very high, very open and very long. It sways from side to side and generally scares you to death. So we drove out towards Whistler along Horseshoe Bay and Howe Sound to Shannon Falls Provincial Park. Shannon Falls are very high and picturesque in lovely big tree forest with trails and picnic areas. Then we went on to the Big Chief Something Mountain which is a vast bare rock where idiots (I mean, of course, skilled athletes) were rock climbing. It is a recognised rock climbing area but looks SO dangerous!

Drop Cap e drove back to West Vancouver along a Marine Drive, lined with posh houses and trees and had dinner with Jackie and Barry in a Vietnamese Restaurant near the water. It was very nice, but a huge meal we found hard to finish.

Drop Cap hen back to our hotel. Barry drives like a kamikaze. I was clutching at the seat belt all day. I wish he could stop talking and gesticulating and concentrate on the road but that is asking a lot, it seems. Tomorrow we must confirm our flights, book a transfer to the airport and see about storing our luggage.

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Tuesday 9th September, 1997

Drop Cap his morning after breakfast we confirmed our flights to Honolulu and then discovered that our voucher for a transfer did not pick up at Days Inn. The girl at the desk was very offhand about it as if everyone should know that and said we could pick the bus up at the Hyatt Hotel. But rather than drag the bags half a block to the Hyatt we decided to get a cab from the hotel to the airport. A bit annoying but we'll have it out with Annette when we get home. We went out for a walk and discovered a large shopping centre mall which we wandered in for a while then left to meet Jackie and Barry.

Vancouver photograph

View from Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Drop Cap hey took us to Granville Island. This is a reclaimed eyesore of a light industrial area which has been gentrified with new buildings in the same style (corrugated iron) as the old buildings. There are craft workshops, art schools and studios, theatres and drama schools, restaurants and produce and fish markets. It is quite fascinating, right on the water, and has a good atmosphere. Mac finally found the sticky buns he's been craving and bought four for lunch , which we had at J. and B.'s place, e-mailed Geoff and gave them the gifts we had brought. They seemed quite chuffed.

Canyon photograph

With Jackie at Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, Canada

Drop Cap fter lunch we went to another lovely provincial park, very close to their house, called Lynn Canyon where there is another suspension bridge like the Capilano one, only slightly shorter and not quite so high. Intrepidly I sallied forth and actually managed to get over it (and back) without too much trouble and trauma. It spans a very deep gorge which has danger signs all over the cliff tops (apparently it claims about two lives every year) There are pools and rivers which are tempting but icy cold and have extremely strong currents and undertows. But it was very picturesque.

Drop Cap fter this we drove to Steveston Landing, a fishing village with a picturesque high street where I found a second hand bookshop and a copy of Ellis Peters' "An Excellent Mystery" and introduced Jackie to Dick Francis with "The Edge", the book that inspired our trip to Canada in the first place.

Steveston photograph

Steveston Landing, Vancouver, Canada

Drop Cap hen we went to the Landing, a Fisherman's Wharf where they were selling fresh salmon off the boats. We didn't buy any - our object for the expedition was Dave's Fish and Chip Shop Restaurant, where we had the most delicious cod and chips, crisp and luscious. After a computer lecture by Mac to Barry (who soaks up all kinds of information like a sponge) we left, as sunset was colouring the sky, arriving back at the hotel by full dark. We took affectionate leave of Jackie and Barry, who really had been extremely generous with their time, showing us about, when they leave for Florida on Thursday.

Drop Cap opefully we will be able to leave the bags stored here after we check out tomorrow as our plane does not leave until 8 p.m. Then off on a new phase of our North American Adventure!

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Wednesday, 10th September, 1997

Canada Place photograph

Canada Place, from the Lookout!, Vancouver,Canada

Drop Cap oday we checked out of the Days Inn, after leaving our luggage in storage, and headed off to fill our last day in Vancouver. We headed first for the Harbour Centre Tower. This is a mall and office block with a high tower, revolving restaurant and the Lookout! You go up in a glass lift on the outside of the building which was a little hairy, but after all, I have been up the Eiffel Tower! There is a panoramic view from the Lookout! which is spectacular and although a little hazy today was still worth seeing. While there we picked up a BC Transit brochure and decided to get day passes for the various forms of interesting mass transit.

Drop Cap e picked them up at the Station, near the Waterfront, and went on a round trip to the end of the Skytrain route. The Skytrain is a computerised light rail system, geared to commuters, no driver or guard, very fast and efficient. It is rather like the Docklands Light Railway in London, but much longer.

Gassy Jack photograph

Statue of Gassy Jack Deighton, Gastown, Vancouver

Drop Cap hen we had come back to the Waterfront we walked into Gastown for lunch. We had a sandwich and OJ in a little deli then walked down to "Gassy Jack's" statue. Gassy Jack Deighton is credited with getting Vancouver started and Gastown is named after him. It is a redeveloped slum, like The Rocks, quite cute with little mews areas and cobblestones.

Clock photograph

Steam Powered Clock, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada

Drop Cap feature of Gastown is the Steam Clock. This peculiarity is driven by a steam engine working a series of cogs and chains. It also blows an offkey carillon every 15 minutes. We went into Gaoler's Mews, which used to be near the prison, but now looks like
"a desirable address".

Gaolers Mews photograph

Gaoler's Mews, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada

Drop Cap e bought a few souvenirs then headed back to the Station for the Sea Bus across the Harbour to North Vancouver. This ferry is very big and carries a lot of people. It was a nice trip, very quick, to Lonsdale Quay, where there is a market, on a much smaller scale than Granville Island, but similar. There we had a sticky bun and finished the Coke we had bought earlier. Back across the Harbour and walked back to Days Inn. We picked up the cases and caught a cab to the airport. I am writing this as we wait for our flight to be called to Honolulu. More when we arrive.

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