Week Forty One - Vancouver

Trip Start Aug 26, 2003
Trip End Aug 24, 2004

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Week Forty One - Canada

Day 267 - Wednesday 2 June

The date is 6 July, six weeks since I last sat down to type up the previous five weeks' entry. I have made no notes but will again try to bring you up to speed with the events since leaving New Zealand.
Up at eleven and check out of my Auckland Airport Hotel. A complimentary shuttle bus takes me to the airport. I board the Air New Zealand flight to LA. I share three seats with a guy from LA who works as a lecturer in real estate for six months of the year in Auckland. He does this flight often. His solution to putting in the 13 hours is to drink. We get to the point where we don't need to ask the stewardess for beers. The feature film is Peter Pan. I don't even open my earphones. Sleep comes after eight hours and lasts for one. I listen to my MP3 player until breakfast is served. LA is nineteen hours behind Auckland so it is midday on the 2nd when we arrive in LA. Clearing customs takes nearly two hours of shuffling along a snaking queue. Once through I pick up my bag and head out for a smoke. It is sunny and warm. Big black policemen saunter by, sweating. In the adjacent terminal I check in for my Air Alaska flight to Vancouver. I have booked a flight leaving at 1730 but ask to go standby for the next flight at 1430. Luckily I get on. The flight is only half full and most are a group of high school students going on a leaving party to Vancouver. They are polite to the point of calling me 'sir'. It seems that I am the only person on the flight with a pen to fill in the landing form. 'Excuse me sir but could I borrow your pen' keeps me awake for the two and a half hour flight. We arrive in Vancouver and whisk through customs in five minutes. I board a bus to downtown and get dropped off half an hour later in the centre. A twenty minute walk gets me to Opus Hotel in Yaletown where I check into a gorgeous room and go to sleep for the next twenty hours.

Day 268 - Thursday 3 June

My friend, Geoff, from back home joins me tomorrow for three weeks so I plan to check out the area before he arrives. Geoff joined us in Bangkok and I know that it is going to be a hectic 20 days. High culture it won't be. I leave the hotel at three and wander along the seawall path around downtown as far as the beginning of Stanley Park. The city is beautiful with snow dusted mountains forming the backdrop wherever you look. People lie on the grass banks and on the beaches. Dog walkers everywhere. People stop to ask about others' dogs. Smiling is allowed. I walk the length of Davie Street stopping off for rice and sweet and sour pork in a café for $4. Back to the hotel then change and call into a few bars. Starting at The Yaletown Brewery then on through The Atlantic Bar, Ginger, a couple of others then call back to the hotel to phone Geoff. His alarm has just gone off (5.30am his time) to get up for his lift to the airport. I give him directions to the hotel from the airport and he encourages me to go out and check out some other bars. I end up at Doolans Irish Bar on Granville Street. A big girl invites me to join her and some friends. They are all large. A wee Norn Irish chap, Liam I think, also joins us and at closing time we all head back to my room for a party. I kick them all out at 5.30am once the mini bar has surrendered.

Day 269 - Friday 4 June

I arise at 1330 and walk into town. Have a bite to eat at the same place as yesterday then wander back to Opus. I expect Geoff around 5.30pm so decide to try to get a nap. Just then the phone rings to say that there is a Mr Moore waiting for me in the lobby. I find Geoff in the bar, already on first name terms with the barman. We have a beer then chuck Geoff's stuff into the room. We are sharing the room (twin of course) for $260 per night. We head into town and play some pool then end up at Doolans. Geoff is knacked so we head home early at 0030.

Day 270 - Saturday 5 June

After a long lie in we head out for lunch. The Cactus Club across from the Opus Hotel becomes our eating establish hment every day for the next twenty. The food is excellent and is brought by the most heavenly creatures imaginable. Next it is back to The Yaletown Brewery for pool and beer. We can't find a nice local beer so end up drinking bottles of Coors Light. An Egyptian guy called Sherif asks for a game and ends up joining us. He introduces us to his boss, Raymond who owns 150 restaurants across Canada, mostly in Montreal. Later another guy, Pete, joins us. He has lived the high life and used to stay in the same hotel in London as Dr Dre. They are good friends and Pete has also lunched with Claudia Shieffer (much nicer in real life) and Liz Hurley (not so hot). It is a world apart from NI and we are enjoying it. Pete asks where we have been in Vancouver and decides to escort us to the best bars. First call is a bar called 'The Quay' which soon becomes our starting point every night. It is by the Marina on False Creek and overlooks the water. We are introduced to the waiting staff (more of them later) and head on to 'Glowbal'. At some point I leave Geoff and Pete and head back up to Doolans where I had arranged to meet 'the big girls'. Sure enough they are there but after they have bought be endless shooters to make up for emptying my minibar I decide enough is enough and head back to Opus. Geoff is safely tucked up in bed.

Day 271 - Sunday 6 June

We are scheduled to check out of Opus tomorrow but decide to extend until next Sunday. The hotel cannot put us up in another twin but offer to put us up in a single room each for the same price. We learn that REM checked out a week ago. Back over to The Cactus Club for lunch then down to The Quay for drinks. (Note: as this happens every day I will shorten it to Cactus Quay in future). Sitting on the patio, Sherif and Raymond joins us. They are the worse for wear. The finals of the Stanley Cup (ice hockey) are on with Calgary leading the best of five series 2-1 over Tampa. Every bar is crowded and rapturous applause greets every Calgary goal. I soon lose interest. Calgary lose. Sherif gets out of order with a guy at the adjoining table who sorts him out. The bouncers evict Sherif and he is barred for a month. We apologise to the guy in question who invites us to join him and his friends. His name is Lawrence, a stockbroker/restaurant owner aged about 30. He owns a couple of boats and promises to take us out to the harbour some day. We leave at closing time and call into Lawrence's apartment for a drink then head to a club called 'Bar None' which is right behind Opus. We have a great night.

Day 272 - Monday 7 June

After lunch in the Cactus Club we board the trolley bus for a tour of Vancouver. We get to the Aquarium in Stanley Park with 45 minutes before closing. We whiz round with the Beluga Whales the highlight along with the raccoons outside the Aquarium. We dash for the last trolley bus and just catch it. We get back to the hotel then head down to The Quay. There are a group of five Playboy Bunny Girls there just to add to the surreal nature of the place. We get chatting to a bunch of girls. One is the former secretary to the Mayor of Vancouver who has just become a DJ on local radio. Tina Oliver is her name and she promises to do a piece about our impressions of Vancouver, this coming Monday, on her show. She also invites us to her birthday party this Friday night at her house. We wander back up Davie Street to Granville and into the famous Roxy Club. We play pool and listen to the band then head home around twoish.
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