Day Three/ Bike riding in Vancouver

Trip Start Dec 17, 2011
Trip End Jan 14, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, December 19, 2011

Today was a lazy wake up, followed by breakfast in our room.  We had bought small packets of cereal, poured milk into them, and ate them out of the box.  It wasn't the best breakfast, but it satisfied the hunger.
We walked around the river again, this time feeling much colder than yesterday. We tried to find a store that rented bicycles for us, but there was no luck.  We finally found one about 2.5km away from the hotel, but the guy was very friendly; showing us maps and wishing us luck.  We cycled around Stanley Park, the park near the river.  It was a very scenic ride, and there were many places along the way to stop and take pictures at, which pleased mum, the keen photographer.  One of these were totem poles, made by Canadian Indians.  I had always thought that the Canadian natives were called Eskimos, but apparently, that is now politically incorrect. At the place, we caught a guy wearing a Collingwood cap.  Dad took this opportunity to whistle the theme song to get their attention, and then struck up a conversation.  We always seem to find Collingwood supporters whenever we travel, but it still feels like you're at home, chatting to someone about the game.
The ride was a lot of fun, and was about 12km in total. It was mostly flat, bar a few small hills, and there was barely anyone else around, so it felt like you were there by yourself.
We returned the bikes a little early, as it started to rain, and we went next door to a pasta restaurant.  The waiter who served us looked Chinese-Canadian, and dad guessed that he probably wasn't Italian, but the food was still really good. Nobody was able to finish their meals, which meant that many plates were passed down to dad to finish.
We walked back home, via a few stores.
We lazed around the hotel room, until we decided to go down to the spa.  We sat in the spa for awhile, where we met a local, who was a member of the gym at the Fairmont.  He told us all about Vancouver, and what he knew of Sun Peaks. He said that Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada; even more so than Toronto, which is a bigger city.  There are quite a few homeless people around, and he said that it's because Vancouver is a warmer city than the others, even in winter, so it is more comfortable, the programs for homeless people are better here, and it is easy to find drugs.  It's a sad situation that affects most cities in the world.
We went back to the room, and had a quick shower before we went out to dinner.  Laura, Hayley and Elyse were too tired to go out, so they stayed back.  Mum, dad and I went to a restaurant not far away that the man in the spa recommended. It was a very popular restaurant, and had to wait for about 20mins for a table. Once we got a table, we ordered and the food didn't take too long to come out, even though the place is so large.  The hockey was on a huge screen, and Vancouver was playing.  It's infectious to watch the hockey when you're here, and I found myself getting quite into it.  The passion displayed by the players is huge, and the fights are very aggressive, yet there are no rules or penalties against it.  Barry Hall got 4 weeks for attempting to punch someone.
We talked to the waitress when she got us the bill about the tipping protocol.  She said 15-20% is normal.  She also told us that she keeps all the tips that she is given, but she must tip the kitchen and the bar 5.5% each.  This means that she doesn't get to keep all the tip, and if a table leaves without tipping, the tip for the kitchen and bar comes out of her own pocket.  This means that it costs her money to serve tables if they don't tip.  She is paid minimum wage, which is $8 an hour, so tips is where the majority of the money comes from.  This has both positives and negatives, as the income is not guaranteed to be much, especially if the place is not full, but it also ensures that the serving staff are always friendly, prompt, talkative and observant, as they need the tips of the customer to make money.
We bought Laura, Hayley and Elyse back some muffins from a store near the hotel, before watching some TV.
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Steve Medley on

Nice comment about tipping, not something the average Aust or NZ traveller knows. Looks a liitle cold over there, it is going to be a balmy 24 today and 32 for Christmas..

Keep having fun and much love to all.

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