We might be seasoned travelers but perhaps that makes us too relaxed at times, and the night before flying to Canada, attempting to check-in on-line, we discovered that we needed visas! Oops. Oh well, easily fixed. What would we do without the internet?
The Air New Zealand flights from Melbourne to Vancouver (via Auckland) passed pleasantly with meals, movies, and a perhaps little too much New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (my favourite drop).
After 17 hours of flying did our luggage feel this heavy?
We bought a Compass day pass at Vancouver airport train station, giving us unlimited travel on the Skytrain (airport to city), the ferry between Waterfront and Lonsdale, as well as the local buses. Good value.
It was just a short walk for us from the Lonsdale ferry terminal to the Pinnacle Pier Hotel in North Vancouver.
A lovely place to stay, and not far from the Lonsdale Quay Market.
Undeterred by the lateness of the hour, nor by the Melbournesque weather (overcast and drizzly) we headed back across on the ferry into Vancouver for a little evening exploration.
In honour of this 3-continent round-the-world trip, taking in Canada, France and Japan, we sought out the “Japadog” street vendor. The Kurobuta Terimayo was fresh and light, but when all’s said and done, it’s just a hotdog with Japanese mayo and seaweed.
From there we headed into the Gastown historic area and stumbled upon the fascinating Steam Clock.
I loved the decorative street lamps of Gastown…
but didn’t appreciate the brazen beggars who weren’t satisfied with just a dollar or two.
There were plenty of eateries to choose from in this popular district. The Old Spaghetti Factory looked interesting, and we enjoyed the decor and ambience as we sat at the bar waiting for a table. The cocktails were well priced (but remember to allow for taxes and tips) and took the edge off our appetites, so we ditched the idea of a late-night dinner in favour of a good night’s sleep.
After an early workout in the well-equipped gym, we enjoyed our breakfast downstairs. Beware: Pacific Northwest smoked salmon has the texture of smoked trout but those potatoes had a delicious kick!
We took the local bus from our hotel for an unguided tour through North Vancouver, over Lion’s Gate Bridge (one of the longest bridges in Canada) and through the secretive woods of Stanley Park before alighting at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, where we would catch our coach transfer up to Whistler later that day. The bus ride took longer than anticipated and squashed Tony’s dreams of shopping at the market on Granville Island for supplies for the week, particularly when we were not able to leave our luggage at the Hyatt unattended. Something we really should have checked!
Sandwiched between our very enjoyable week up at Whistler and our fabulous train trip across to Toronto (more on all that later!) we scored a second half-day sightseeing in Vancouver. This time, leaving our luggage at Pacific Central Station, we hopped on a bus which conveniently took us directly to Stanley Park: my Number 1 “must do in Vancouver.”
We spent an hour or two there, walking around the marina, amongst pretty cherry blossoms in the otherwise dormant gardens…
through quiet wooded areas…
and down to the Seawall.
You could spend days there and not see it all!
Bussing it back downtown, we had dinner at SteamWorks Brewing Co (just by Waterfront station) and couldn’t fault the atmosphere, view, service, and food. Starting with a house-brewed beer, I ordered Fish Tacos for a light option, but it was both generous and delicious: two flavor-packed tortillas plus yam (sweet potato) fries – and I just had to eat it all!
It was a great way to finish off our two-part visit to Vancouver. I’m sure we’ll be back.