Vancouver Part 2

Trip Start Dec 01, 2008
Trip End Jan 09, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On our first day here in Vancouver, we decided to go and drive through the different suburbs to see what they are like. Being a Sunday we expected it to be a quiet and laid back drive. We went past Grouse Mountain and Cyprus Mountain, two of the three ski areas just a few minutes outside Vancouver. At the bottom of Grouse Mountain, they have a Timber Wolf sanctuary. They look like mean white dogs.

 The day started out overcast, but soon cleared, which was spectacular from Cyprus Mountain, looking down at Vancouver.
Steven needed to be back at the flat at 2 the afternoon, to send off an email to GIBS - midnight back in SA for his electives next year, but we didn't know about the Christmas parade in downtown! Our street and all the surrounding streets towards our flat was blocked off, and there were people and cars everywhere - major traffic jam! Great! We tried to get close to the apartment for about 45 min, but wasn't very successful - then we decided to park, and Steven walked to the flat, but he was not in the happiest of moods (as you can imagine!). Anyway all finally done, we explored a bit more, and came home tired.
That evening we went to the lookout tower of Vancouver to see a 360 degree view of the city at night.

We decided on the 2nd day to go on the Hop-on Hop-off Vancouver Trolley (They are styled to look like the San Francisco trolleys), which took us on a great trip around Vancouver to get a great look at the city. We first went past Stanley Park, a large park at the tip of Vancouver downtown. The park has fantastic sea-side walkways, cycle ways, sports grounds where they play cricket and rugby, the aquarium and a few restaurants. We hopped off to look at the totem poles crafted by the local Indians (they call them "First Nationals" here), with a great view of the city skyline across the water from that point. We hopped on the tour again, passed Lions Gate bridge (built by the Guinness family of Ireland to connect downtown with North and West Vancouver) and stayed on till the other side of downtown where we got off at Granville Island. It has a great market place which sells all sorts of crafts and goodies. The fresh produce section is great with all the fruit polished and stacked on top of each other to form a pyramid. One of the interesting things we saw there was the various types of tomatoes, with yellow, orange and red tomatoes together, and anther type called heirloom tomatoes which looks a little like a small red pumpkin.
After having brunch and browsing around Granville Island, we got back onto the bus which took us back into downtown passing through Chinatown and also Gastown (Vancouver's oldest district). In Gastown there is the world first steam powered clock which sounds the Westminster chimes every 15 minutes and blows the big whistle every hour.

At this stage it was already almost 4pm and we were getting pretty tired, so we decided to call it a day and head home.
The tour lasted two days, so we decided to do another full round the next day to catch any commentary we missed on the first day. We missed the first bus, and decided to get a Starbucks instead - especially since there are so many Starbucks stores in Vancouver - over 200 stores, more than Seattle! They love their Starbucks so much that at the one intersection there are 3 coffee shops, which 2 are Starbucks. They were the busiest Starbucks stores, that is until they opened a store in Hong Kong. Along the same street there are 20 coffee shops, 9 of which are Starbucks. We got off at Canada Place, which is the expo centre for Vancouver and the main sea plane terminal for Vancouver. It was a miserable day, so we caught the Nutcracker at the Imax located in Canada place and then went for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.
Today we have decided to take a chill out day, as we have been on the move for ages and we need to take some time out and do nothing so we can get some rest. We were planning to go to Victoria (Vancouver Island) tomorrow, but the ferry is quite expensive, with a return ticket for us and the car costing around R750. So we haven't planned anything definite yet and will see where the day takes us.
What we do know is that we CAN'T WAIT for Whistler!!!!!! Bring it on!!!!

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