Vancouver-Way out West

I was looking forward to having a house as a base after all my nights in hotels, inns and universities over the summer. I was also looking forward to some home cooked meals!  I was not prepared though for how tired I felt nor how difficult it would be to appreciate more sight- seeing after the magnificent Rockies. We settled in and on the first day just got our bearings and land legs downtown. Vancouver is Canada’s third largest city and 35 percent of its population is foreign born. It has the highest proportion (per capita) of Asian’s of any North American city. I would also guess it has a very high proportion of Australians also! Vancouver is North America’s second largest port in tonnage and physical size –after New York and is a major cruise ship port. Almost every day I was there, a cruise ship was in Port.

Highlights of our time in Vancouver were:

  • Gastown- A historic and shopping district in the downtown area. Most famous landmark here was the Steam clock.
  • Dr SunYat-Sen Chinese garden – This was the first North American classical garden built outside of China. It was a Ming Dynasty Scholar’s garden and had some exquisite Bonsai on display.
  • North Shore- After a  short ride on the sea bus ( fancy name for ferry) we were on the North Shore. Real estate on the North Shore is in the upper market range and as we discovered it has lots of hills! We spent some time checking out The Quay markets and would you believe, we found an Australian souvenir shop in here! We then caught a bus and went to a local park to watch the Royal Canadian Police perform in the Musical ride.  It was great to see the Mounties and horses perform to music. Very clever choreography and entertaining. I had learned all about this in Ottawa at the stables and headquarters so it was great to catch them in action.  We then caught another bus to Lynne Canyon where we hoped to cross a suspension bridge and catch a view…… unfortunately the bridge was closed! It seems a summer dare for young locals is to jump off the cliffs into the river. Apparently a young man had fallen 40m and had to be rescued. Emergency personnel and police were on the scene so no view of the canyon was possible. We did see some tress though and lots of emergency vehicles 🙂
  • Vancouver Aquarium. This was an amazing place. We spent most of the day watching sea otters, dolphins and beluga whales. Great fun was had by all when the whales slapped their tail and caused  BIG splash! If you were sitting low you literally got drenched with salt water and were warned to put cameras away so they would not be damaged by the salt water. The display of jellyfish was out of this world! There were even purple ones!
  • Stanley Park- a mini Central Park but this time by water. Interesting Totem poles was a central feature as well as this park being surrounded by a sea wall.
  • Granville Island- Matt was not to0 impressed with this place-too many shops! I was able to have a quick browse around and yes, I did buy a fridge magnet and jewellery (again!)

One of the “not so highlight” of Vancouver for me was the number of homeless people in the city centre. They were very visible, literally sleeping on the sidewalk which was very sad to see. On one main street you had very exclusive brand name stores on one side and the homeless on the other. It is the first city I have visited in which I was “advised” to avoid a certain street because ” it is not very pleasant”. I have heard than it is very expensive to live in Vancouver and it would seem there are the very rich and the very poor with not much in between.

Our time in Vancouver drew to a close and it was with some relief I hopped on the plane to return to Brantford. What an epic summer of travel and I was looking forward to meeting my new class and beginning the last leg of my journey and adventures in Canada.

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