Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
Trip End Apr 01, 2010

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, August 23, 2008

Having gone full circle we are now back in the lovely city of Vancouver, ranked as the 10th cleanest city and the 3rd most liveable city in the world. I'm sure it would have looked even better if the sun had made an appearance; instead we endured lots of rain just like a typical English summer. Vancouver has a high population of Southeast Asian's which equate to 29% of the population giving the place not only a great China Town but an overwhelming choice of Asian cuisine to choose from. The setting for Vancouver is very green; the city is backed by mountains, which are cloaked in green pine trees, on the other side you will find the Pacific Ocean. 
The city is compact, you can walk to most places, catch a sky-train or one of the water taxis. There are plenty of pavements everywhere and the motorists are very courteous often stopping allowing pedestrians to cross even when there is no crossing. There are several town beaches in Vancouver and the 100 acre Stanley Park is pretty much how nature intended. There is a great seawall walk and various forms of entertainment around the park. Unfortunately over 1000 of the original trees were blown down in several storms 18 months ago so there are areas where stumps still abound, but it is still a great place to trek.
Once again we were lucky enough to seek out a piece of Eden. The B & B we stayed at for our three night stay was positioned right in the heart of the city. Ashby House is a detached Victorian house set in a quite street just of Robson Street, the equivalent of London's west end. Mary Anne & Robin our hosts at Ashby House, had lovingly restored the house to its former glory, it seemed quite surreal this three story property sitting dwarfed amongst the new shiny sky scrapers. It was a delight to stay at, for both the luxury of the house and the conversation of our hosts. 
Whilst in Vancouver we enjoyed a fleeting visit from Julie's brother. Mark and a couple of his mates had flown into Vancouver on route to Penticton. They had a four hour drive from Vancouver, and were competing in the 2008 Ironman competition. It was 4pm by the time they met up with us, as that's midnight UK time we couldn't keep them too long. After a quick beer they were on their way. You need to be pretty fit to compete in the Ironman; this Triathlon is one of the most gruelling events in the world of sport. It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a complete marathon (26.2 miles), all in succession. Athletes have 17 hours to complete the event (from the 7 a.m. start until midnight). Go Mark!.........The race is on Sunday and he's bib 842 if you're watching! 
Granville Island - This is where the locals go to shop and eat, it is a small island set in the waters of False Creek. In the late 1970s, Granville Island began its transformation from a declining 37-acre industrial park in Vancouver's False Creek, into a successful urban redevelopment. Its previous life was much different than what we see now, although remnants of the past are very much in plain sight. Even some old tenants still remain: a cement factory, Ocean Construction Ltd. has been on Johnston St. for more than 80 years. We took one of the many water taxis to the island, just $4 return. These water taxis look like something off of Noddy! They are really small, it takes only a few minutes to get there, but it's fun. On the island there is a massive farmers market, selling all foods and crafts from the local area. There are also heaps of food stands and restaurants, we couldn't make our minds up so shared a Mexican dish and then walked around the bay to "Go Fish" where they literally pull the fish in from the sea and cook it fresh, and both were delicious!  Tracy, we just can't help ourselves; they will be charging us for excess weight on plane if we keep this up!  
Whilst in the city we managed to meet up with Barry, a friend of ours whom we had met a couple of years ago, whilst travelling around Africa on the back of a lorry! It was really good to catch up with Barry. It has been about two and half years since our trip. We went out to a newly opened restaurant called Boneta, just on the edge of the Gas Light district. The meal was good but they seem to think it's very trendy to have loud music playing, not great when you're trying to talk to each other. I must be getting old! The restaurant was in a part of town where they starting a regeneration programme, to tidy Vancouver up before it is put on display as part of the 2010 Winter Olympics, great idea but the street was lined with homeless people lying out on cardboard with all their worldly possessions, I guess every city has this problem, perhaps the mild climate must attract more to Vancouver?
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