Vancouver already?!?!

Trip Start Apr 17, 2006
Trip End Apr 16, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hi. We are back on the map after Niagra and Toronto. Once again, our most updated destination (Vancouver)has arrived a lot earlier than expected. To cut a long story short (maybe?),the car hire in Canada has sent our planned itinerary into the oblivion. For some reason,ONE-WAY car hire in Canada isn't really an option,unless people have mega bucks,or are scared of flying!! Our plan was to fly into Winnipeg and make our way West (by hire car)to Alberta.Which holds.., Edmonton,Calgary and of course some of the Rockies. From there we were to drive through British Columia and all the way to Vancouver.
So having arrived in Winnipeg (by flight from Toronto), we found that by not bringing the car back to its original hire point,would hold a massive 'one way' surcharge! Needless to say we weren't going to do our whole journey from Winnipeg,across thousands of miles,to then drive back to the same place and still be stuck in Winnipeg. We now know that this 'one way charge' is applicable to all car hire companies in Canada. So basically we needed to find a base to be able to explore the areas we wanted and be able to bring the car back to the same place. So Winnipeg was out of the question! At this point we felt our flight to Winnipeg had been a waste and were stuck in the middle of the country. So after debating a bus or train journey from Winnipeg,we decided that this would only get us so far and we'd have the same predicament of how we moved on. The fact that most bus and train journeys to anywhere of interest, consisted of over 24hrs straight journeys,made us consider other options.
Lou eventually came up with a brain wave.... We fly straight to Vancouver the next day (out of Winnipeg) and hire a car from there, to then go around the Rockies and back to Vancouver. This then meant our car hire charge is normal price. It seemed a crazy and premature idea,seeing as we only just got here and was against all that we had planned!!.........But within hours after this so called 'crazy plan', we were airport and Vancouver bound! The joys of backpacking again! The bits we missed out on, not being able to drive through, seemed a shame. But we feel now,that it was a good decision,if not for just making up some time and getting to see more beautiful areas instead.
Winnipeg,bless its heart was okay, but it certainly didn't make us think twice about leaving after just one day. Although the water slide and Jacuzzi in the hotel Ramada, that we had for the night,was the one shame to leave. OH and before you all say 'They are supposed to be backpacking,what are they doing at a hotel?!'.... We just got smart!!! Here is a tip for all backpackers. Check with hotels and motels when in Canada. They are mostly cheaper than hostels and you get facilities, private room,tv and all the extras. HI hostels especially are a rip off!
So to Vancouver we headed. Air Canada again, for a 3 hr flight. It was nearly as cheap and 2 days quicker than public transport! What is going on here??!! Again we were through a load more time zones and we got to Vancouver ahead of planned time. Its been tiring!! Arriving fairly late at night,we again opted for the hotel option at the airport for a mere 30..
The days ahead were fun in Vancouver. We headed downtown and found a hostel that was cheaper than a hotel this time. Vancouver is a lovely city. Its rare to find a nice city, so close to the ocean,mountains,rainforests and hikes. We checked downtown Vancouver,which has plenty to do. A good part of the city is Granville island,which has a load of market stalls and quirky shops. We also booked our tickets,going the next day to the Capilano suspension bridge. Its a 170m high walkway,which sways dramatically over the fast flowing river and tree lined Capilano Gorge. Also it has a cool network of bridges, that are connected high between the trees,giving a chance to walk around the tree tops. A great experience. This took most of the second day.
A friend of Lous had recommended a restaurant at the top of Grouse mountain (which has great views of the city,just across the water}. All excited,we called to make a reservation.But probably having experienced, badly dressed backpackers in the past, we were immediately advised that dress code was smart! No sports wear,jeans or t-shirts etc!... So pretty much all of our packed clothes. I think we opted for Pizza again in the room! All good though.
The unfortunate job of finding car hire again came around. This time things were much simpler. We got some quotes and found a car for the week through National Carhire,with all insurance and a tank of fuel for around 200. A snip considering the freedom we would have and amount we'd see, compared to flying everywhere. Just a a point to note.... Do not underestimate Canada's size. We already have and its been pretty tired traveling! Try not to pack too much into an itinerary! I found out that Canada has the longest highway in the world,at 7821km,14000km of rail track,6 hrs of time zones. Also the longest trail (Trans Canadian trail) at 18.078km. A single trail from coast to coast, that is almost half as long as the world is round! Also the second largest land mass after Russian states together, at 10 million sq km. Canada also has the worlds longest coastline (including its islands) at 202,000km and has 20% of the worlds fresh water. It has astounded us. With a round trip to the Rockies and back in store, we're sure it will overwelme us even more!! Enjoy the pics and wait for the next updates of our road trip to the Rockies!!!!!!! Not sure if the Grizzlies,or lou driving is scariest!!! Woo woo.
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