How does one describe Vancouver in one word? Its beautiful with lots of deep blue waterways and the rugged mountains as a backdrop....its clean and most of all friendly. The LRT from the airport to Yaletown (CAD 7.50 concession) where we got off was quick, simple easy to negotiate and I didn't get my wallet stolen. The Ramada we had booked via our time share total waste of money, is old and a bit tired, but the bathroom in our room was well renovated, but simple and very basic room The good part is location which is corner Grenville and Davie and has every type of food at reasonable prices. Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Malaysian...the list goes on, plus the full range of fast food and pizza joints. Its right on the edge of the night club, adult shops and peep show area as well great selection of pubs and close to Davie Village geriatric hippie commune.
Our first evening we ventured out after a hot shower and rest and turned the first corner to find a slightly inebriated chap yelling “hello” through a small window in a wall. Turns out to be a Chinese take away and the chap absolutely insisted he buy us a meal. After many refusals, KC said sod it and ordered ½ a duck and chow fun. That sobered him up a bit, but with gentlemanly grace invited us to his penthouse suit in a nearby condo. Wow what a view from up there and reconfirmed the fact its a beautiful city. Some recent survey has Melbourne beating Vancouver as the most liveable city...well bullocks to that, as Vancouver wins hands down in my book.
Our first full day had us walking over the bridge to Granville Island and being a Saturday with lovely fine warm weather, just everyone was there buying fruit, meats, veg, home made breads and soaking it all in. It was like one great party and on the water yachts and power boats vied for space with the wonderful little ferries plying False Creek. After walking around the seawall and finally back to the main town area on the Burrard Bridge, we found ourselves in Davie Village. The road for many blocks was cut off and was dotted with stages with great bands of all genres, stalls of every possible description from food, palm readers, trinkets and politicians, doomsday prophets to Aussie jugglers. In all we walked about 6 km.
Second full day, we walked the length of Granville Street down to Canada Place, where we wandered about a while buying street vendor food. Then down to Vancouver's roots in Gastown, which is a fun tourist area, watched the stream clock and avoided buying tourist trinkets. Then up though a deadbeat area of panhandlers and street vendors to Chinatown. Seems the Chinese have had a very major affect on the development of Vancouver from early times and obviously still have their finger on the city. Great dim sum and food generally. The walk back along the shore of False Creek to Davie past the Casino and marinas and shore parks was enjoyable. In all around 8 km.
Third day we went crazy and walked about 20 km down to the False Creek foreshore, right around the 1000 acre Stanley Park, the length of the city, Gastown to Chinatown, to Vancouver Central bus/train station to pick up tickets, then False Creek to Davie and back to Granville. Our feet all but fell off, but was a most enjoyable day and the weather was still holding good.
Early day four, we walked in the predawn around False Creek to the bus station to take an early Greyhound to Whistler. A wonderful trip along the foreshore of Howe inlet past Horseshoe Bay, Furry Creek and Squamish (where we saw a black bear wandering behind a row of houses) and up to Whistler. This is a picture postcard town with just everything in its place and surrounded by very beautiful mountains. We bought a day pass for the Whistler Village Gondola up to Roundhouse Lodge. There we walked quite some distance up a walking trail, before returning to the lodge and taking the peak to peak gondola. This swings free way over a valley from Whistler Mountain to Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain. Indescribable views along the valleys and the mountain ridges. But the best we saved till last, which was an open, fast “Peak Express” chairlift from Roundhouse to Whistler Peak. This was exhilarating and just a bit scary and the view from the top just something else again. By the time we got back we had a simple Indian meal and fell into bed.
Our feet now are seriously sore, so day 5 and 6 are taken up leisurely ambling around crisscrossing the city and somehow always ending up in Chinatown for a humongous lunch. Day 5 slightly marred by the first rain we have seen here, although it’s only light and we along with the rest of the city just ignored it.
In checking out everyday costs of food and beer, to hotels, prices are similar to Sydney or London. Property prices however are quite high and probably not sustainable in the long term.
If there is one blight on the landscape, it’s the very large number of able-bodied beggars and scam artists. This is sad and we found these individuals confronting and appeared untouchable as they stole from shops and others.
Vancouver and the residents of BC in general we found made it a home from home….
…and so onto the next leg of our trip.