DM and MM's USA and Canada 2004 Trip Diary

Day 21 - Vancouver

Friday, 16 April, 2004

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We woke and showered before heading next door to the Douglas House for our breakfast. The woman there cooked hot brekkies so we ordered some fried eggs. I started with corn flakes and had the eggs on toasted muffins, while Michelle had some toast with jam.

After breakfast we went to the laundry across the road and did a final wash so we could have some clean clothes to travel home in. While Michelle watched the wash, I walked in search of bus tickets. The laundry guy said I should walk up Cambie St a block and a half to the grocery store, so I did in chilly rain only to find they didn't sell bus tickets. I searched around a bit more but didn't find anywhere else that sold them. I walked back tot he laundry and down Cambie St in the other direction to the City Square Mall, where I first tried a newsagent and found after four people checked about a dozen lottery tickets each that they didn't sell bus tickets either. The guy there pointed me at Safeway at the other end of the mall and I went there, eventually securing two day passes after the checkout woman had to wander off to get some out of storage or something.

After the laundry was done and dried, we set out for our day in Vancouver. First we caught a bus downtown, the number 15 along Cambie St, and got off at Robson St. which we then walked along, looking at shops and things. Once past the main shopping areas, we turned towards the waterfront on Denman St, but were getting hungry for lunch, so we decided to catch a bus back along Georgia St (parallel to Robson) to the main area for food, since there seemed to be none near us. So we caught a 19 bus, not realising it turned down Pender St, and we ended up near the Harbour Centre and its lookout tower. So after checking its food court and finding it to be unsatisfactory, we decided to go up and see Vancouver from the top.

Harbour Centre from below

The ticket selling lady asked where we were from and I answered Australia. She said whereabouts and I said Sydney. She said whereabouts again and I said, "Whereabouts in Sydney?" thinking she wouldn't know any of Sydney. Then she said she was from Penrith! So I said we were form Wollstonecraft and she said she always liked meeting fellow Aussies. Then we went up in a glass-walled lift somewhat reminiscent of the Space Needle in Seattle, although the Harbour Centre tower isn't as high, even though it is the tallest building in Vancouver. The view was excellent though, as the weather had cleared somewhat and we could see lots of the city laid out before us.

View from top of Harbour Centre over Burrard Inlet to Grouse Mountain

We went down and walked up Granville St to locate food. I found a sushi place where they made up sushi combo boxes to order, so I got a combo without avocado. It was two pieces each of tuna and salmon sushi and six crab rolls, and was all very good. Michelle meanwhile got some vege soup from Soup Etc nearby. We ate in the Pacific Centre - a large shopping mall in the middle of downtown that extended underground over two blocks.

After lunch, we walked along Robson St a bit more so Michelle could find a place to buy a souvenir T-shirt, then we crossed over to Georgia St. Next on the plan was a stop in Stanley Park for a walk around and look at the many sights there. We caught a 251 bus along Georgia St towards the park. I noted that we wanted to get off the bus soon after it turned right into the park off Georgia St. So we waited for it to turn and immediately pulled the stop signal cord. But the bus didn't stop, as there were no bus stops at all within Stanley Park - it went right through the park and on to and over Lions Gate Bridge to North Vancouver! Quickly fiddling with the bus route map, I decided we could salvage things by getting off at the first stop after the bridge and transferring to a 232 or 246 bus for the Capilano Suspension Bridge. All we needed was for the first stop to be before the 251 took the loop road on to the westbound main road. Well... the bus took the loop and got on the westbound road without stopping! Once on that road, it finally stopped, several kilometres from where we originally intended alighting. We had to walk back around the loop road and cross the busy divided road to a lonely and remote bus stop on the opposite bridge exit ramp and wait there for the 246. We had to wait about 20 minutes, but eventually it came and we managed to get to the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

We paid our admission ($16.94!) with a $1 discount coupon and entered the park built around the famous suspension bridge over the Capilano Gorge. The park had some other attractions - totem poles and nature walks, but the bridge itself was the main feature - a swaying wooden walkway slung below two steel cables. I crossed it to the nature walks on the other side of the deep river gorge, while Michelle waited, too put off by the dizzying height and swaying of the bridge. When I returned we took some photos of some excellent painted totem poles and left.

Totem Pole
Totem pole at Capilano Gorge

Next we caught a 232 bus up to the base of Grouse Mountain and the cablecar ride up, which we did ($24.95 each!). The trip took eight minutes in a large, smooth car that rose steeply up the forested mountain. The air got steadily colder until it was 2°C when we reached the top, and snow covered everything. The clouds were hanging low over the top of the mountain, but were high enough that we had a clear and spectacular view of Vancouver far below.

Grouse Mountain View
View of Vancouver from top of Grouse Mountain

We walked outside in paths through the snow, which was piled two or mote metres high beside the paths. There were several wooden sculptures scattered around the mountaintop which made impressive sights in the snow. I was surprised to see none of the skilifts operating and nobody skiing. Inquiring of the staff we found the mountain had been closed for skiing for the season just four days earlier, as some runs were getting very thin. We saw a short movie included in our ticket, that was basically scenic flyovers of bits of Vancouver and the surrounding area put to music. While at the top of the mountain we noticed several hikers - some wearing only T-shirts and shorts - completing the foot trail "The Grouse Grind" from the bottom station. It seemed to be some sort of race competition.

We went back down the cablecar and waited for a 236 bus to take us to Lonsdale Quay, where we got on the SeaBus across Burrard Inlet, which took us back to the vicinity of Harbour Centre around sunset at 19:45. We had planned to go back up in the evening for night viewing (on the same ticket we'd bought earlier - valid all day), but were getting hungry for dinner so decided to seek a restaurant instead.

I thought we could get a bus down Granville St and over the Granville Bridge and end up in the middle of a happening district on Granville Island, so we caught a 16 bus and got off at the first stop over the bridge. The are looked residential, so I thought we should walk up the hill (south) until we found the shopping and dining areas. A few blocks up and we hit Broadway, where we'd been last night! It seems the Granville Bridge flies over most of Granville Island and we really should have walked down the hill to the north to find the island dining districts.

Oh well, we knew there was food to be had on Broadway, so we walked west until we found Maurya Indian Restaurant and went in. It looked more fancy than any Indian places back home, but seemed reasonable in price. It was very large with a lot of tables, and quite busy. Michelle got some dhal while I got a lamb korma. We also got a potato stuffed naan. The food was decent, but not spectacular. One thing we've definitely noticed in Canada though is the much larger variety of ethnic food available than in the USA. Once we'd finished eating, I asked the waitress if she could inquire of one of the Indian staff we could see wandering around if they knew the result of the India v Pakistan Test match, that I was keen to knew the outcome of. She looked quizzical, but returned with the news that India had won the game and the series.

Leaving, we wanted a bus going straight up Broadway to take us back to our B&B for the night. We got on a 16, and realised this was turning for downtown down Granville St as it turned at the very next intersection, so we got off again quickly and walked back to Broadway. We then got on a 9, which took us where we wanted to go, having made good use out of our day bis passes.

We dropped in at the City Square Mall on the walk back from the bus stop to pick up an apple for Michelle for tomorrow, and some Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream for me for dessert tonight, from Safeway there. Then we came home, I ate the ice cream, and we turned in for our last night before heading home tomorrow.

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