Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside
Vancouver, British Columbia
Sunday 4th September
I was sad to be leaving the mountains, bears and friendly ambience of Alberta. It must be the West Country girl in me but cities just do not have the same appeal. However, this trip is all about experiencing a range of different settings and the travel books rave about Vancouver so my expectations were high.
After lots of kindle time during our epic journey I was relieved to finally arrive at the Sandman Suites in downtown Vancouver. This was situated on Davie Street which has a flamboyant and lively vibe but also a bit of an edge. Popular with the gay community it has a ring of Brighton about it and was an interesting street to people watch! Our home for four nights was quite quirky and included a kettle that boiled but did not switch off and an iron that switched off and did not iron! However, the location of the suite for exploring the city was perfect.
Eager to stretch our legs after the long journey we headed out for an evening stroll along English Bay. I should note at this point that we are once again enjoying temperatures of over 25 degrees - yippee! This was a lovely walk away from the bustle of the city. As is common with most cities, Vancouver is very cosmopolitan with an eclectic mix of people. Notable points on the walk include having to regularly dodge people on high speed roller blades, interesting pebble sculptures and a very strong smell of what I think can only have been herbal cigarettes!!
The sun is shining and the weather is sweet - Monday 5th September
After a great night sleep I was wide awake at 7:00am and headed to the gym which became a morning ritual for me - just like the old days!
It was Labour Day so the city was buzzing with people and we opted for a long walk to Stanley Park and the Lost Lagoon. This was a really enjoyable walk and included some unexpected sightings of harbour seals, otters and racoons - see pictures. I thought we had left all the wildlife behind - how wrong was I!
Vancouver is very much a city of contrast. There are lots of affluent parts but equally we observed some quite disturbing homelessness. The changing scenery of bustling streets, seafront walks and some amazing parks does make it an enjoyable place to amble around.
I see trees of green - Tuesday 6th September
Today we were going to explore the North Shore which meant donning the walking boots once again. Most visitors opt to visit Grouse Mountain but we decided to head further afield away from the tourist trail. We took the Seabus to North Vancouver then hopped on the number 229 bus which took us to Lynn Canyon. There is some really great hiking here and we completed the Lynn Canyon Loop, Varley Trail, Cedar Mills Loop and part of the more challenging Lynn Headwaters trail. It was great to be back in the peace and tranquillity of the forest . The Varley trail was named after the famous war artist Fred Varley, who in later years painted some contemporary and vivid pictures of the mountains in British Columbia. I have since done some research into his works and discovered a complex, controversial and interesting artist.
Street Life - Wednesday 7th September
What a beautiful day. It is hot, hot, hot, hot…… The Sun has got his hat on and so has Stuart! Today included a quick trip to the bus station to book our tickets to Victoria. We then headed along False Creek with our final destination being Granville Island.
Granville Island is really quirky and contemporary - I loved it. It is a cross between Covent Garden and The Lanes in Brighton and is where the Vancouver Fringe festival is to be held. Sadly this starts on the day we leave so we will miss it. After a mooch around we found 'Cats Social House' and enjoyed a Tuna salad washed down with a couple of pints of lager - cheers m'dears!
We could have easily stayed there all day supping but we are on a budget and the cost of beer in Canada is horrendous. With our sensible hats on we ventured back to downtown on a zippy little aqua bus, enjoyed a nice cup of tea and settled ourselves in for a night of 'Love it or List it' a Canadian property programme which I have become addicted too. Don't worry Phil and Kirsty - Hillary Farr and David Visentin are not a patch on you.