Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Vancouver

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.

Canada, O Canada

Friday 22 May 2015

Homeward bound we finally reach our front door lateish on Saturday afternoon, my thanks to Cerys Matthews (Radio 6; Sunday mornings), Johnnie Walker (Radio 2; Sunday afternoons) and Mike Brown (CHBN – the Friday Alternative, should be compulsory listening) for providing an aural disguise to the jet engines on the 747.  No photographs on this section!

If I have not gushed enough about Canada on the individual blog posts then this is my last opportunity.  Taken in the round we loved the trip itself (with diverse views on the sleeper accommodation on the Canadian between Toronto and Jasper); we thought it gave a wonderful representation of the country and speaking personally I would hope we can find an opportunity to visit the eastern part of the country that was missing on this trip.  Oddly Victoria was outstanding as we were completely ignorant of the place and another trip covering just there and Vancouver might be planned – simply because we feel there must be more to see than just the highlights we hit.

Not a single meal which could be rated as poor over the entire holiday – and in general service was outstanding – usually friendly chats with waiting staff provoked by an initial enquiry about our accents and of course a shared history and interest.  The good service rating does not extend to VIA Rail who should take up operating freight trains given their incompetence and complete absence of passenger service (and passenger needs are far higher than any mere customer).

It is impossible to single out a highlight – up the CN Tower, Rocky Mountaineer, Jasper, Victoria, Sulphur Mountain gondola in Banff, Vancouver – there are too many good bits.

We enjoyed it and had a great time.  I think the sunshine helped – apparently we were somewhat lucky in this respect.  If you can go then do so.  Another great holiday.


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.