Monday 30th April
Today was mostly spent wasting time and packing our suitcases. Some things went in. They were then taken out and put in carry- on bags. Some things were taken out of the carry- on bag and put in the suitcase. Just when I thought it was safe to relax we then took things out of one carry- on bag and moved them to the other carry- on bag. Eventually it was time for bed and no more moving things around.
At least until the morning.
Tuesday 1st May
I had a terrible night of not much sleep. As has been the case as long as I can remember I have setting and waking to an alarm, I seem to wake every hour including the final hour before the alarm sounds. At that time I can never get back to sleep. While waiting for friends Graham and Wencke to take us to the airport we did a bit more suitcase and carry –on bag shuffle. Not for the last time I might add.
At the airport we joined the queue waiting to book in. Then we joined another queue to go through security then joined another queue to go through Customs or Immigration. Of course joining a queue was not yet over. To actually get on the plane, Air Canada Flight AC36 which is an A388 we joined another queue. We discovered although we are sitting in adjoining seats they are numbered H and J. There are no seats numbered I. Hmmm! On looking around there are no seats numbered F.
Tuesday 1st May Vancouver
During the flight we met hostess Dana a friend of Linda’s whom we drove around Brisbane a year or so ago. It was just after dinner was served and we were soon served some nice wine from the Business Class section.
The food on the flight has been acceptable. Nothing flash but certainly edible and sufficient. It also included wine and I had an extra couple of Vodka with orange juice. I still did not get any sleep during the flight.
A long 13 hour flight finally landed us in Vancouver a little before 7am. Outside temperature was 9°. A couple of things are worthy of being noted for future travellers. Canada now has a system of an E Visa which is linked to your passport. You no longer have to fill out an entry form to declare you are not carrying too much money, drugs, guns or certain foodstuffs. Instead you now line up at a screen and your passport is scanned, you answer the questions, declare how long you are staying in Canada and your photo is taken and a receipt is issued. You then meet a Customs/Immigration/Security person who asks a few questions and then you are free to collect your luggage. Next you normally go through Customs and sometimes even have your bag inspected. Now the bags are scanned as they come off the plane before they are put on the carousel. Once you collect your bags you are basically free to enter. Quick and easy.
Next we bought a Skytrain Ticket including a bus ticket to Linda’s house. Cost was $15 for the two of us. The bus driver went one stop beyond where we wanted but we still managed to arrive at the house by 8.30am.
Despite people advising us not to fall asleep, we fell. Three hours later we woke feeling less than refreshed but at least feeling better. We went for a walk 20 minute each way walk to a shopping centre. I was a bit surprised at the prices which are somewhat higher than home.
We went to bed expecting a reasonable sleep.
Wednesday 2nd May
A reasonable sleep probably means we are almost over jet lag.
As the day progressed it seems we are not over the jet lag.
We woke to news here in Vancouver about fuel prices. WTF!!! Same story almost as the story about fuel prices in Brisbane the day we left. In Brisbane they are complaining about near record fuel prices of around $1.57 per litre. Here in Vancouver they are complaining about near record fuel prices of $1.67 per litre.
The sun is shining but it has no warmth. Temperature at 8am was 7°.
Our friends from White Rock, Fred and Peggy arrived at 1pm to take us for a drive for a fish n chips lunch at a riverside suburb called Steveston.
Daves Fish and Chips is a well known local seafood restaurant. https://www.davesfishandchips.com/ Daves is one of about a dozen fish and chips outlets along the boardwalk all of which are doing a good trade. The good thing about seafood here is they serve real fish such as halibut or cod or local lobster, crab or even scallops. Not like some so called Australian seafood outlets which serve imported Basa from Vietnam. There is a big difference between wages in Canada and Australia. Australians are much better paid.
It was while I went to take a photograph of the seafood market area the camera battery died. No problem. I just inserted the spare. Uh oh, it has not been charged since the last time it was used. It was about this time it dawned on me I had not packed the battery charger, it was still at home in Australia! I was facing seven weeks of travel without a camera.
Much of Vancouver is built around the ocean harbour and or the Fraser River. Boating in and around Vancouver is hazardous as there are many floating logs and tees and other bits of timber. Much of it is floating just below the surface. Vancouver is a centre for the timber industry. Logs are floated down river to mills for processing or export to USA. Many logs and parts of logs beak away from the main body of the flotilla.
After lunch we found camera store. They did not have a genuine battery charger but did have a universal charger which includes a car adapter.
We then drove south of Vancouver to White Rock which is only a few Klms from the US / Canadian border crossing. Fred and Peggy live in a beautifully appointed high rise apartment called The Beverley, which has sweeping views of Boundary Bay, Semiahmoo Bay, the Strait of Georgia and the USA Peninsular. http://www.whiterockcondo.ca/the-beverley-1501-vidal-street-white-rock
White Rock is a large rock not otherwise found anywhere in the region and is believed to have been deposited by past glaciation. The whiteness of the rock was contributed to by aeons of bird guano. Long before white man arrived in the area, local First Nation Tribes would use the rock as a meeting place. Later settlers did the same. Now the local city fathers dictate the whiteness be renewed by cleaning off any guano accumulated in the previous 12 months then a coat of white paint each year.
In the evening we went to White Rock Beach for dinner at one of the dozens of eating houses along the shoreline. We chose Oceanside Yacht Club which is not a yacht club at all, it is, in Australian terms much like a pub. http://www.jrg.ca/establishment/oceanside-public-house/
There is a nice promenade along the shoreline which has a train track running beside it. It is separated by a low fence. This is the main train line connecting Vancouver Canada with Seattle USA. We will be travelling to Seattle on Friday but unfortunately we will travel by coach instead.
A public jetty runs out into the ocean.
Local seals and sea lions enjoy sunning themselves at the end of the jetty. Being late evening when we arrived the seals were out feeding in the bay instead of sunning.
Thursday 3rd May
After a peak hour traffic crawl from White Rock to Richmond we took a LandSea Vancouver Delights tour of Vancouver. https://vancouvertours.com/tour/vancouver-delights-capilano-tour/
Our driver was quite skilled and knowledgeable about the city.
First up we visited one side of the famous Stanley Park which straddles the Stanley Park Causeway and Lions Gate Bridge on the way to Vancouver’s Northshore.
The Lions Gate Bridge was opened to vehicular traffic in 1938. The cost of building the bridge was bankrolled by the famous Guiness Family of Ireland . A toll of 25 cents was imposed on all motor vehicles. The toll remained in place until 1963 when the Guiness Family sold the bridge to the British Columbia Province at a pice of almost CAD$6,000,000 – not much more than the original cost of construction during the depression years. However they were not entirely generous in the transaction. Remember they were collecting most of that 25 cents per vehicle from 1938 until 1963. With vehicle traffic increasing every year they made a tidy sum over the years.
Next on the list was the Capilano Salmon Hatchery.
There are two interwoven stories here. Salmon return to the area where they were born in order to lay eggs or spawn. They then die. Swimming upriver through rapids is part of the deal which includes wild bear and equally wild mountain lions looking for a quick meal. This ancient essential ritual was interrupted in 1958 when the Cleveland Dam, needed to supply Vancouver with drinking water was completed.
The salmon simply could not swim or jump above the dam wall. Instead a series of “fish ladders” were built to one side of a diversion. The salmon were caught, the females milked of their eggs and males were milked of their semen. This way eggs became fertile, new fish hatch and at the correct time in their development are released back into the river to begin their voyage to the ocean.
Capilano Suspension Bridge was next. https://www.capbridge.com/eat-shop/
This swinging bridge hangs down and over Capilano Canyon and the Capilano River roaring its meltwater far below. Normally one or two people on the bridge is a mini challenge in maintaining balance. During peak tourist periods such as spring and summer, such as now, the bridge becomes packed with 100 people walking each way. A fair proportion of those people freak out with the swinging and contribute to congestion and further swaying as they insist on not moving while maintaining a rigid fear, overcome with immobility while ignoring pleas from family, friends and other equally fearful people who just want to get off. Donnis and I took up the challenge and went both ways without ill effects except for tired rubbery legs.
Next challenge was a Cliff Walk.
This is equally terrifying to those not ready for the adventure. The narrow timber walkways in themselves are quite easy to navigate.
That is until congestion by those unable, unwilling or more interested in watching other walkers frozen in terror.
In several places there are clear glass panels designed to create fear and panic.
Today a walker suffered a panic attack and several Vancouver Rescue and Fire Units attended to help the person off the walk. Chaos reigned and the normally busy bus carpark became a scene of absolute vehicular congestion as did the road outside the centre. Traffic along the road began to build creating even more problems.
In the meantime walkers could not move either forward or back. The cliff walk came to a standstill. Management in their wisdom placed rubber mesh over the clear glass to reduce people getting fearful. It did but still the fearful people who maybe should not have taken up the challenge in the first place, became frozen creating a new set of bottlenecks. Once again Donnis and I managed the complete walk without any fear and in several places where glass was installed had to push past groups of people unwilling or unable to move forward.
Luckily we had a fine lunch experience at the Cliffhouse Restaurant before embarking on either adventure.
On the return drive we entered Stanley Park from the opposite direction and went to Prospect Point to view the bay, city and mountains.
Granville Island was our next stop, a place we have been before. It is a sort of market with lots of food outlets, artists outlets, knick knack shops, theatre and whatever else people think they can sell. Fed and I are not market people so went for a walk looking at, well, whatever we found to look at. Donnis and Peggy bought some food to take home to cook and eat tonight.
Downtown Vancouver, Gastown and Chinatown were drive by commentary destinations. As we moved into Gastown the cities population of drug addicts, no hopers and homeless were everywhere. It was sad to see so many people lined up for their methadone treatment, selling drugs on street corners, or tents erected in parks o beside or under bridges.
Vancouver Lookout is a high rise building with a revolving restaurant and observation deck.
The sights of Vancouver, old and new buildings, buildings being pulled down, buildings being built, the harbour, bridges and snow capped mountains.