"Thats Vancouver, Canada... not USA..."

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, October 11, 2004

For some reason, maybe immigration, there isn't a train that runs from Seattle to Vancouver, so luckily Amtrak runs a bus connecting the 2 train stations which is included in our ticket. The only problem with this was Vancouver, unlike most cities, doesn't have its station in the middle of the city, instead situating it miles away by the airport. So when we arrived we had to jump on another train to take us into the centre. It was called the skytrain, quite nifty, think London underground in the air... very futuristic!

We got off at our station and after climbing what seemed to be an eternity of stairs we stepped out onto Granville street, the heart of Vancouver's bar and club district, and also to our hostel which was useful! We walked past more homeless people that night than we saw the whole time in the US. We booked into the Hostel International after a recommendation from a friend we made at the hostel in Seattle. First impressions were actually quite good. It was massive, clean and we only had to share with another 2 people. Plus it was only 5mins walk to the bars!

After talking to the receptionist we booked ourselves onto the famous Erik tour?! We wasn't to sure what to expect but we were told we would see all of Vancouver in a day and all for $5 - Bargain we'll have some of that!

Tuesday 12th

Another early start, starting to wonder if we were ever going to get a lay in, we were on holiday after all? We met the famous Erik at 8am sharp, we were warned about being punctual. We would find out later why this was so important. After introducing himself to the rest of the group we headed out. Erik was a retired Danish Immigrant that travelled to Canada 40 years ago, he used to drive buses up until 10 years ago where he started doing these tours every Tuesday and Saturday, week in week out. He didn't receive any profit from the tour he just did it for his love of Vancouver.

We wasn't quite sure what was in store for the day the sheet we read just said bring your swimming costume? We were later told that the tour was 11 hours long and consisted of a complete city tour and a hike through the nearby mountains to various waterfalls - aha thats what we needed the swimming costume was for!

The group consisted of 11 other people, all of different nationalities and all staying at the same hostel. There were 2 Australians, 2 English girls from Stratford upon Avon, a wee Scottish girl called Linda, 2 weird/arrogant French Canadians that never spoke a word to us, and this cool little guy called jererd (apologies if spelt wrong!) from Singapore. He was the funniest bloke, you couldn't help but laugh when he spoke about things. We definitely hope to meet up with him if we get over to Singapore.

We headed into the city first and took in some lovely buildings that i'm not going to bore you with the details with! But we did find out that Vancouver is said to be the Hollywood of the North as we ran into a couple of films getting shot throughout the day.

After about 3 hours in the city we jumped onto our first bus to head into the mountains. It was the first of many buses, trams and ferries we were to take during the day. Luckily because of Erik 30 years of service, he had struck up a deal with the transport company that enabled us to travel round the city for a whole day for $5. about 2 quid. That made the tour a whole lot cheaper!

One of the good things about Vancouver is that it is only 30mins bus ride away from the mountains. Gone was the hustle and bustle of city life and in was the peace and tranquility of mountains with forests and waterfalls. It reminded me a lot of Portland which we had visited a few days earlier, just Vancouver was a lot less industrialised!

We started walking to what we were told would be an amazing sight. Erik stopped every 5 minutes describing everything from the type of mushrooms that were growing, to what films were shot here and even who and when people died here! Nice! We even walked along the beginning of the trail that starts in Canada and runs south for 6000 kms straight through America. He joked that we didnt have time to do all 6000 kms today... he was a funny guy our Erik!

Eventually we made it to what we had been waiting for. Erik had led us to an isolated waterfall that only locals knew about. It was at this point that we discovered that we were the only 2 people that brought their swimming costumes. Apparently people only swim in this waterfall in the Summer due the temperature (4 degrees). So being the crazy English guys that we are, we stupidly decided to do it anyway - well we swim in Southend sea in the Winter - surely it wont be colder than that?

After a mad scramble behind some bushes, we were changed and ready to dive in. It felt like being in a diving competition as we had 11 camera's and 2 video camera's pointed at us and recording the dare devil move!

To say it was cold was an understatement. It felt like an elephant sitting on your chest it was so hard to breathe! I now know what the royal marines must feel like when they have their winter training and have to jump in the icy water! All said and done the pain slowly wore off and pretty quickly we were swimming around like the water babies we are, for a good 5 minutes! We even went into the water twice which earnt us the nicknames of the Viking Warriors for the rest of the day. Erik even took great pride in telling all the bus drivers about our amazing feet and that we went in twice! I'm sure the story of the crazy English Viking warriors that went in twice would be told for years to come! [if any of you are fortunate enough to watch the video we filmed it all on my camcorder!]

There was no time to hang about though as you could see Erik was getting twitchy about missing the next bus, so we quickly changed and with numb toes headed over a suspension bridge, and up hundreds of steps to the main road and to the bus stop. True to his word, the bus was there in 2 minutes. So far Erik has been spot on, i can see why he is so persistent about not stopping unless it was absolutely important. He had a time plan and we had to stick to it!

We spent the afternoon jumping from one bus to another and seeing, if not briefly, the different areas of Vancouver city we missed in the morning. Erik took great delight in showing us their new hi-tech library, giving us a tour for an hour! well when you've seen one library i'm sure you've seen them all! I'm sure he only did it so he could check his email while we waited?!

By the end of the tour we had all grown quite fond of little Erik. He didn't to do the tours, but week in week out, come rain or shine, he took groups of foreign travellers around his home city. He later told us that he made it into the lonely planet guide to Vancouver, but wanted to be included in Canada's. I'm sure that was a hint for us to write in!

Joke of the day

Who Died the Worst Death?

Three men stand before St. Peter awaiting admission into Heaven.
However, St. Peter has been informed that Heaven will only admit
33% of applicants today. The admissions standard: Who died the
worst death? So, St. Peter takes each of the three men aside in
turn and asks them about how they died.

First man: "I'd been suspecting for a long time that my wife was
cheating on me. I decided to come home early from work one
afternoon and check to see if I could catch her in the act. When
I got back to my apartment, I heard the water running. My wife
was in the shower. I looked everywhere for the guy, but couldn't
find anyone or any trace that he had been there. The last place
I looked was out on the balcony.

I found the bastard hanging from the edge, trying to get back
in! So I started jumping up and down on his hands, and he
yelled, but he didn't fall. So I ran inside and got a hammer,
and crushed his fingers with it until he fell twenty-five floors
screaming in agony. But the fall didn't kill the asshole. He
landed in some bushes! So I dragged the refirgerator from the
kitchen (it weighed about a ton), pulled it to the balcony, and
hurled it over the edge. It landed right on the guy and killed
him. But then I felt so horrible about what I had done, I went
back into the bedroom and shot myself."

St. Peter nodded slowly as the man recounted the story. Then,
telling the first man to wait, he took the second aside.

Second man: "I lived on the twenty-seventh floor of this
apartment building. I had just purchased this book on morning
exercises and was practicing them on my balcony, enjoying the
sunshine, when I lost my balance and fell off the edge. Luckily,
I only fell about two floors before grabbing another balcony and
holding on for dear life. I was trying to pull myself up when
this guy came running onto what must have been his balcony and
started jumping up and down on my hands. I screamed in pain, but
he seemed really irate. When he finally stopped, I tried to pull
myself up again, but he came out with a hammer and smashed my
fingers to a pulp! I fell, and I thought I was dead, but I
landed in some bushes. I couldn't believe my second stroke of
luck, but it didn't last. The last thing I saw was this enormous
refrigerator falling from the building down on top of me and
crushing me."

St. Peter comforted the man, who seemed to have several broken
bones. Then he told him to wait, and turned to the third man.

Third man: "Picture this. You're hiding, naked, in a
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