Tuesday 19 May 2015

Good morning Vancouver.  Our swift trip through the streets last night was followed by a retreat to bed and some sleep but this morning we have a tour of the main city area commencing with Stanley Park.

Pictures of the totem poles and other sights in Vancouver are together in this location.

Stanley Park was originally heavily wooded and the initial foreigners who landed culled the wood for use and so this is a modern replanting.  The First Nation occupied this area during summer and at the heart of the area was a very large collection of shells going back over 6000 years of dumping of rubbish.  At the end of the Park is the Lion’s Gate Bridge which leads to the West Vancouver “British Properties” built by the Guinness family in the 1930’s.  The bridge is named after the “Lion’s Ears” twin peaks in the distance (see the photos).  The Lion’s Gate name was then appropriated for the film company – Vancouver has a large and flourishing film industry; presumably the light attracts film makers in the same way as Hollywood.

Vancouver is, like Toronto, at heart a modern city – total recent history only reaching back about 150 years; but it has been a place which has found favour with a weather pattern not unlike the UK, more rain perhaps; although our stay is blessed with unbroken sunshine the local residents advise that this is unusual.  We drive through one of the residential areas and past very expensive car showrooms – later on the streets we see evidence that ownership of very high end models seems very common. Queen Elizabeth park, named after HM The Queen Mother, from a Royal visit to open the Lion’s Gate Bridge is reached and is in glorious bloom.  We do not have time to visit the local equivalent of the Eden Dome which stands in the park.

We pass through Chinatown which along with the one seen in Toronto does not seem so attractive as in London; we are told that it has “moved”; but my wife feels it looks down at heel.  Our tour terminates close to the regenerated area of Gastown which no doubt was once run down and decrepit being close to the Docks and railways originally.  However now full of small boutiques and pubs and antique shops it provides a more welcoming view of Vancouver, particularly in this warmth.

We dine at the Old Spaghetti Factory, which improves the budget position somewhat; clam chowder soup and a salad.  Financially we have spent more than planned on this holiday; without doing anything silly.  It is unfair to say Canada is expensive – but we have had to buy virtually all breakfasts whilst on many other holidays that would be within the price for accomodation.  We knew this would be the case (no complaint on that front) but we had perhaps expected them to be a little less costly than has been the case.  This morning we ate at Forage – which was on the list of possible dining locations and the lunch cost little more than breakfast!

Around the city we see evidence of older men sitting on corners and in motorised wheelchairs making requests for money and are several times approached by younger men for assistance, the latter all well spoken and polite; presumably the lack of a complete welfare state.  As mentioned above there is evidence that there are some pretty rich people around and also this contingent of those with some form of difficulty.  The range somehow seems wider than at home.

Later in the day we had decided to eat at Joe Fortes restaurant – I wanted some decent fish and it had the added benefit of being close at hand.  The food delivered was excellent – a shrimp ceviche to start was rightly spicy and my cioppini was an amazing collection of fish (and shellfish).  This went down well but the noise inflicted a headache on my wife (usually I am the one who finds the noise in many restaurants objectionable).  Perhaps not the best choice.  It has been a long holiday and we have been on the move now for some time.

Overall this post may seem to be a little harsh.  We both thought Vancouver was a wonderful city and in the warm sunshine seems outwardly highly attractive and potentially worth another visit but I cannot deny some concern at the existence of apparent beggars.