Vancouver a GREAT city but beware the seagulls!

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July 22nd 2012
Published: July 27th 2012
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Canada Dock
22-25th July ’12 Vancouver

First thing I must say is Vancouver is a great city! We both really liked it! Saw loads and walked a million miles. We got 2 decent days out of 3 so that wasn’t so bad and we were staying in an apartment so part of one day off was a great chance to catch up with everything.

We docked at Canada dock and were off the ship by 10am and greeted by the sight of lots of Canadian flags. A big city was a bit of a shock after 3 weeks in Alaska but when we arrived the streets were really quiet (it was Sunday) and we walked up hill and then down to find our hotel.

We were staying on Robson Street at the Riviera Hotel, we weren’t able to check in when we arrived but were able to leave our rucksacks, which we did and then headed out again to explore. We walked for MILES around the downtown, Gas works and Chinatown areas – we ended up in a kind of flea market/car boot sale without the boots. There were lots of unusual, interesting people around!

We found the statue

Bye Ship!
of Gassy Jack who was originally from Hull, he was an adventurer and captain who became a saloon keeper and got his name because of his ‘gassy’ monologues! We found the steam clock and waited to hear it play the Westminster Chimes - which it does every 15 minutes.

We also visited the Vancouver Public Library which is a fantastic and huge!. It is in a very modern building which is extremely controversial as it is built in the style of the Colosseum and even has its own piazza, I reckon it looked great!

Everywhere there are tall skyscrapers intermingling with old art deco style buildings and the streets are lined with trees and flowers. On Granville Street - one of the main roads, an area had been blocked off to traffic and they were holding a dancing in the streets event, with people of all ages doing the Swing (should have gone to dancing lessons on the cruise after all!). By the Art Gallery they were giving free Rhumba lessons and there was just such a good feel to the city.

We ate that night at A Taste of India, which was near our hotel and

View from our balcony
you picked what dish you wanted and then chose whether it should be mild, medium or hot. I asked for a mild but it was so hot when it came I couldn’t eat it, there solution was to give me a bowl of yoghurt to mix in it, which cooled it down but totally altered the taste – do NOT eat there if you go to Vancouver!

We had picked up the free paper The Georgia Straight to look for gigs but didn’t find any but did come across an advert for a film – Sound It Out which was being shown the next day. I was totally gobsmacked! It was a documentary about the last surviving independent record shop in Teesside, it was also the shop I took my LPs into to when we were clearing the house before we set off!!!! And it was only a mile down the road from our old house in Stockton! What are the chances of that? So of course we had to go and see it!

The next day it tanked it down, so we ‘rested’ in our apartment with the big comfy sofa and I caught up with the

Dancing in the Street - Granville Street
blog and with family on skype. We ventured out at tea time and decided to walk down to the Vancity Theatre where the film was being shown. We called at the box office only to discover you had to be members to see films there – which meant the price doubled, hmmm this made the film a bit steep for just 70 minutes. I was telling the lad that we were from Stockton and knew the shop and we had been travelling for nearly a year so it was a bit of home for us, but as it was a members only theatre there wasn’t any way around the rules. So we decided to go and get some tea and think about it.

The theatre was in the Granville Street area which is the nightlife area and also the backpackers district. What was surprising was the number of homeless people in this area who were clearly living on the street and the sight of so many young people racking through bins for food was very sad.

We decided we had to go and see the film so walked back and the lad on the desk was so pleased

to see us! He told us to ‘hang on a minute’, went out the back and then came out with two membership passes and said ‘these are on me’ – how nice was that? Bless him, we thanked him and said don’t be laughing at Teessiders once you see the film!

The film was excellent, funny, moving, full of ‘characters’ – some of whom we were sure we recognised from down the town and it really summed up Stockton and Teesside. I was so glad we had gone! The audience clapped at the end – made me proper proud like!!

Our last day was sunny, hooray! Great views from our balcony - between the buildings to the bay and the mountains beyond. We walked up and down (this city is full of hills!) to the Light Railway station and bought our combination bus and train pass for the day. Our first stop was to find the bus station where we were going to catch the Greyhound bus from tomorrow. That done, we made our way to Granville Island. We had a good look around the market area, which was filled with old warehouses that have now been converted

Gastown - Gassy Jack
into shops and art studios and then went into the market. Here there were lots of stalls selling flowers, fruit, tempting treats and sweets – all of which I just managed to resist and then lots of food counters. We decided to get some Chinese for lunch and as the inside tables were all full, walked outside to try and find a space. Well that was a big mistake! I was carrying the plate when suddenly a gigantic seagull swooped in from behind me, skimmed my head and grabbed half my food!! I couldn’t believe it! Then I looked around to see everyone outside was under a shelter and the place was full of seagulls! They took it in turns to perch on top of the cover and then swoop down on other unsuspecting people, it was only then that we started noticing signs everywhere warning you about the buggers!! - We made a quick dash back inside, to safety!

We then caught another bus back into the city and from Gastown we just wandered the streets back up to our hotel, seeing lots more of this city’s unique characters. After a quick rest we headed out again –

Gastown Steam Clock
I’m sure Howard only did this to try and get more value out of the pass! And we went down to English Beach Bay. This is a gorgeous area, full of little cafes with grassy areas leading down to the beach, where someone has thoughtfully placed huge logs for sitting on.

We walked along the sea wall, dodging the runners and joggers, and rounded the headland into Stanley Park. We back tracked and sat watching the sea for a while before investigating the Laughter Park, full of giant sculptures of people in various laughing poses. We then started back, intending to catch and bus but in the end just walking all the way back to the hotel.

So a brief but great visit to this wonderful city – beats Toronto by miles (in my opinion). There are a lot of homeless people and lots of begging, which I wasn’t expecting, but it’s full of eccentric characters, has lovely beaches and buildings, great mountain views and is one city I would definitely recommend visiting!

Additional photos below
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Pacific Central Station
Granville IslandGranville Island
Granville Island

Should have seen this sooner!
English Bay BeachEnglish Bay Beach
English Bay Beach

Laughter Park

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