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Ooh Canada

CANADA | Wednesday, 23 June 2010 | Views [262]

Today was Day 1 in Vancouver.  Took the Amtrak train from Seattle and it was a slow, slow ride.  I rode first class (only $13 more) and had a seat by myself next to the window - or rather next to the wall in between the windows of the seat in front of and behind me.  So I decided to get some sleep on the 4-hour ride.  The scenery of the coast was nice (when I leaned forward or back to look out the window).  And I kid you not, once we crossed over into British Columbia, nice beaches appeared and a flock of bald eagles were flying around.  It actually looks pretty similar to the north part of the South Island in New Zealand.   

Once the ride ended and I got to the station I had a rather awkward conversation with the Canadian customs agent which went something like this:

Agent: "Are you traveling by yourself?"
Me: "Yes."
Agent: "Do you usually travel by yourself?"
Me: "...Yes."
Agent: "Do you have family or friends in Canada?"
Me: "No."
Agent: "What are you plans in Canada?"
Me: "Oh, just vacation, going up to Whistler too."
Agent: "Are you planning to meet up with someone?"
Me: "No."
Agent: "Enjoy your stay."

My cab driver from the station to the hotel was a funny character.  The 3 times I rode in Seattle, the drivers were dead silent.  This guy was asking a bunch of questions, asking if that was the train from Seattle that just came, if the hotel I was staying at was nice since it used to be something else before they renovated, and oh did I get deals because people aren't traveling anymore so the hotels aren't doing as well, and since the Canadian and American dollar are about the same he likes to head to head to Washington since food is so much cheaper in the U.s.  When he parked in front of my hotel, which doesn't really have a load zone, someone honked at him and he said, "Oh shut up you moron!"  Loved it.  

Staying at Moda Hotel, which is this old renovated building.  It could be a fancy hostel but then they wouldn't be able to charge 4 times as much.  When I was waiting for the elevator after checking in the woman behind the counter saw me waiting and said, "Where is the elevator??" and checked the security cameras behind her and started mashing the elevator button repeatedly and then said, "Okay it's coming."  I've been taking the stairs since.

I walked a bit around downtown but spent most of the day at Stanley Park, this absolutely gorgeous park with multiple trails, trees, grassy lawns, beaches, pools, gardens and an aquarium.  My legs were still tired but I trekked the whole Seawall perimeter - 5.5+ miles - and then some.  Yeah!  There are separate parallel paths for cycling/skating and walking and you can rent bikes or skates if you want.  It is an awesome place and it is well within walking distance of downtown (and almost as big as downtown).  Saw joggers, tandem bicyclists, rollerblading moms with strollers.  I can't believe Vancouverites get such easy access to such a nice place.  I bought some fish & chips and salad from this place by the beach called Rain City Grille (very yummy) and took it on the beach and watched the sunset with hundreds and hundreds of other people on the beach.  They have logs set up on the sand, which I thought was extremely clever, so you can use those as benches.

Just from today I can say without a doubt that Vancouver is a gorgeous city.  Granted the weather was partly cloudy and so I did get to see a lot of sun which helped, but beaches and forests and snowy mountains in the background - this is definitely my kind of place.  I had been thinking about doing a day trip outside of Vancouver but now I'm not so sure.  Tomorrow I'm going to get on the microferries and head out to see more beaches and sample some more outdoor food markets and basically cram as much as I can before heading to Whistler.  Good thing there's still daylight at 9!


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