Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Totem poles

Day 21 Vancouver 22.5.2023

We visited Vancouver some years ago at the end of our trip from Toronto and the Rocky Mountaineer, before a brief flip over the Vancouver Island.  We have warm memories of that trip and of Vancouver in particular as the area where we were based had been modernised and looked like a prosperous and welcoming city.

The intervening, 7 or 8 years has seen changes.  Money and development has been enormous – the run down areas alongside the commercial port, mainly former railway land – has been hugely redeveloped with skyscrapers containing residential development and has become home to many Chinese and other Asian residents.  Alongside that a liberal view of the laws in relation to drugs is obvious.  The drug users have been displaced from the run down areas (which we did not visit last time) to an area adjacent to Coal Harbour (where we based last time) so it looks unsafe even if it is not.

We revisit the Totem Poles and make a first visit to Granville Island Public Market – which is something we missed last time around – before heading to the airport and our overnight flight home after a long and largely very enjoyable holiday.

Day 19 Ketchican 20.5.2023

Ketchikan Log Rolling

This is our last stop in Alaska and the town is hugely dependent on cruise ships, they can berth four in the downtown area (and three are occupied today) with one or two more at our berth about 15 minutes out of town.

We pass Ketchican International Airport, as it has one flight to Canada each week, on our way into town where we are visiting the lumberjack show.  No sign of Monty Python as the four jacks demonstrate chopping, sawing, climbing and log rolling plus some inane jokes which keeps the crowd cheerfully entertained, jeering and booing is encouraged as well, so it feels just like a Southampton home match at the moment.

The drive through the town is slow as tourists are here in huge numbers.  The cruise ship season used to end in October but there is a plan to stretch into November next year to recover some of the list revenue from the covid period but our driver feels the weather is unlikely to be sufficiently kind for the travellers.

Our second destination is the Saxman native village where we are given a demonstration of native dancing which I feel loses something in translation.  We are then introduced to their collection of totem poles and the stories told be the carvings on the poles.  There is a workshop where carvers work but we can see their work but no actual carving is in progress today.

More interestingly the guide’s talk about the village house which has been built in traditional ways tells us a number of things, the modern doors to comply with health and safety composers to the original small door which would only asks one person at a time so protecting those inside.  Each adult would have a single plank to match the individual’s height which could be lifted out allowing personal possessions to be stored in the space below.  There is a large central fire pit which was always kept alight.  The reconstruction had used traditional methods so the individual floorboards rock as you walk but again in deference to current safety there is fire in the central pit.

We return to the ship and dinner is in Chartreuse the French restaurant on board and we have an excellent meal before advancing clocks by an hour again, another 23 hour day!


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.