Vancouver, B.C., Canada – day 2

Whew.   I’m tired after a long day doing things here in Vancouver, British Colombia, in Canada.   It’s 8:30 PM and we’ve just gotten home.

We’ve learned a lot today about how to move about the city via the transport system which, like Brisbane, Australia, includes trains, buses and boats.

We began the day with the free breakfast here at the Days Inn on Kingsway.   Mmmm, that wasn’t anything to write home about.   Let’s just say the room was too small, there were too many people and the food wasn’t much.   Colette ventured that she won’t participate in their free breakfast again.

Once the repast was done, such as it was, we walked to a bank just down the road and traded $30 USD for … $30 CDN and there was no conversion fee charged.   I knew that the exchange rate just now is hovering pretty close to 1:1 but I was surprised that they didn’t ding us for converting on money.   Nice – and good on them.

The we caught the #19 bus that said it was going to Stanley Park.   $2.50 each.   15 minutes later, it let us off in the middle of the park.   Stanley Park, for readers who don’t know, is a huge 1000 acre park on the western end of the peninsula upon which the city of Vancouver stands.   It’s beautiful.   The city runs right up to it and then you suddenly transition from city to park and woods.  

From the drop off point, we walked north until we encountered the seawall and then we began to walk along it heading west.   This took us under the Lion’s Gate bridge which we’d just driven over last night on our first look around.  As we continued around, ships anchored came into view and then, finally, English Bay and, across the way, the neighborhood of Kitsilano.  It was fairly early on a Monday morning so we had a lot of this to ourselves.

Once around to English Bay, we were now into the area called “The West End”.   It’s an area of Vancouver dominated by tall mixed use buildings with high-rise apartments above and stores at ground level.   The area is extremely dense and, in fact has the highest population density in North America; even higher than New York’s Manhattan.

And, lucky for us, the first are we came to sported a Starbucks; which was most appreciated by both of us.  Two coffees and tow chocolate chip cookies later, we were refreshed and now set on our next plan for the day.

And that was to work out how to get up to the top of the Grouse Mountain Ski area which sits on a mountain peak that overlooks Vancouver from the immediate north.

First we determined where the nearest SkyTrain  was on the theory that we’d find the information and connections we’d need there.   It was on Burrard which was eight or ten blocks NNE from where we currently were.   Right!   We like walking and Van. is a particularly interesting city to walk in – so we were off.

We found it (they have a big “T” just by each SkyTrain station) and I called on the public transport system help phone and asked how to do what we wanted to do.   

Piece of cake, it turns out.   Catch the train from Burrard to Waterside Station, get off and catch the SeaBus to North Van. there and once on the other side at Lonsdale Quay, catch the 236 to Grouse Mountain which will be there at the Quay.   And, indeed, it all happened just that way with one connection leading almost seamlessly into the next.   And, we were doing all of these moves on an all-day ticket that we’d each bought for $9.

At Grouse Mountain’s base, which is where the bus brought us, there was a massive huge cable car that runs 20 to 30 folks at a time up to the top of the mountain to the ski area.   The fee was $40 which seemed steep but (later) we were very happy that we’d done it.

The views going up and from the top are outrageous.  And today was a bright and sunny winter day with the temperature right at freezing.   At the top, we took photos, had more coffee, ate a pizza slice each, watched a great movie about the history of Grouse Mountain and then, at sunset, fired off another great burst of photos before we headed back down.

Once down, we retraced our steps; 236 to the SeaBus to the Waterside Stat ion to Burrard Station and then out onto the street.   This took us maybe 30 to 40 minutes, total.  

Once out on Burrard, we oriented ourselves and began to head back towards the West End where we hoped to find a Sushi place.  A bum panhandling tried to con us but we weren’t having nay but, in the process of having a short conversation with us, he mentioned that Robson was the ‘shopping street’ which I then remembered as well.   So, we adjusted our transit towards the West End to use Robson so we could window ship.   Colette found a shop called ‘Zara’ that she liked.

Two passes on Robson and then into a Sushi place called ‘Asahi Ya’ I think it was called.   Good food and friendly people.   I liked that the place was casual too.  The owners had their kids playing in the back.   A Chrashi Don, some Miso Soup and a Sapporo beer and I was a new man (or at least a more refreshed one).  Colette had Miso Soup, a California Roll and some Green Tea.

Now, it was time to work out how to use Vancouver’s cool metro system to get us back out to our Days Inn on Kingsway.    Not too bad.   From the Burrard Station, we headed west three stations to the Main Street station and then jumped off and caught the 19N bus which runs out Kingsway and it dropped us off a half bock from our place.

What an intense and satisfying day.    I would so much rather burn up the hours of my life doing new things every hour of the day like this rather than plodding the same old tired tracks day after day just to make the money to pay the bills so you can have a house to sleep in until you need to get up the next day to start it all over again.

Well, that’s far too pessimistic and negative but I think you probably get the idea.


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