- At the end of a trip it can be hard to ‘gee’ oneself up for the final few days or destination. So it was for me after we left Ohio and headed to Vancouver. It took me a couple of days to catch on to the ‘vibe’ of the place. It is not a huge city, 2.2 million over the greater Vancouver area, but it spreads over several islands, and, unlike Stockholm, it takes more effort and more time to get everywhere. It didn’t help that the wireless internet we supposedly had in our hotel was very sporadic so it was hard to access the local information. In fact it was darned hard.
The first thing that hit us is probably what everyone notices first, the stunning natural setting of the city. It’s hard to beat that sea to mountains scenery, all rolled into one setting. I found it difficult to drill into my brain that Vancouver city, located on the peninsula (and not the capital of Vancouver), is separate from Vancouver Island. On Vancouver Island is located the city of Victoria, which is the capital city. Have you got that? Took me a full day. By the second day when we were hurtling along the water at 30 knots per hour looking for whales near Vancouver Island, I finally got it!
I’m not a small boat or water person, especially if I am skimming along in a tin whale spotting boat, being belted with 40 (or so) mph winds. No siree, just not my cup of tea. I’ve been ‘not-a-boat-person’ as long as I can remember. Give me the mountains any day… something I can view from the comfort of a lodge or even a train. So after six hours or so of bumping up and down and looking for wildlife, broken in the middle by just under three hours in Victoria City, I was done. And I mean I am done with boat rides. There is nothing I want to see or do badly enough to step foot on another small ocean going vessel. Here is the only whale I spotted…
…and that was on the laminated brochure pinned to the wall of the boat! You see several of my fellow companions here equally enthused. The company has a guarantee to see whales, but if you don’t see them on the first day out, you have to go on another day to collect on the guarantee. You may be shocked to learn this was not even a remotely close possibility for me. We saw whales in the wild off the southwest coast of Australia two years ago, so my life is complete.
We loved our time at Butchart Gardens near Victoria, and if pressed to the wall I guess I could grudgingly admit that alone was worth the boat ride… maybe… And there was that awesome fish and chips meal at the Irish Times Pub… But puhleeeease no more boat rides. There are gorgeous gardens in mainland locations and fish and chips to keep me going for years, without needing to set foot on a boat. And to my well meaning friends and family, do not take this as a challenge to prove to me how mistaken I am. Others have already perpetuated my misery and failed to help me see the error of my ways.
The city of Vancouver is like most cities, it has various parks and sections all with their own character. The parks are lovely. The city has mostly mid 20th century architecture, full of high rise, glass buildings, probably so that everyone gets to enjoy the splendid views.
There are lots, and lots of private boats moored everywhere. We saw one boat that carried four other boats on it, plus a jet ski! The ultimate water fanatic it would seem.
We realised toward the end of our stay that Vancouver is about a hundred years newer than Sydney and that was why we kept missing the warmth that older buildings bring to a city.
On the third day we hopped on the sky train and spent several hours, looking at the suburbs and putting the pieces together. Vancouver is a very tolerant and multicultural place. There are high Indian and Chinese populations, to the point of there being quite a bit of signage written in Chinese in the south near Richmond. Average house prices are said to be about 2 million dollars, and one bedroom town houses around $450,000. We were told, houses are not that expensive but the land is. Oh, well, then that makes it better, hmmm? It’s very similar here in Australia.
Once we got the unique Vancouver vibe we quite liked it. It seems to have a good quality of life. But do the research before you go, as it takes some local knowledge and planning to enjoy the city. It’s worth the effort. Our fourth and final day requires a post all its own… catch you in a day or two!
(I’m finishing writing this post from home, where we have been for 24 hours. The difficult wireless internet access finally beat me on this leg of the trip. We were lucky to be able to get 15 minutes of a good signal a day, just enough to check our email.)