Vancouver

After a VERY long journey spanning two flights and close to 24 hours, I arrived in Vancouver. I liked it immediately; it struck me as a very civilised and friendly place. Once I had passed through security, customs and so forth (which, like almost everywhere I’ve been, is far less dramatic than coming into Australia) I found my way to the Skytrain which I took to the city.

I got off at the stop listed on my accommodation booking, and lugged my backpack the few blocks to my hostel. Being the middle of the day I was not yet able to check in, so I went for a walk and began to acquaint myself with the city. I got some food, looked in some shops, and just generally sussed out the place.

My hostel is pretty much right in the centre of ‘downtown,’ which is great. I returned later in the afternoon keen to shower, and met one of the other girls in my room, from Germany. I had dinner with her and a couple of others from the hostel that night. I expected to be falling asleep, not having slept much on the plane, but surprisingly I was wide awake.

The following day I went to Grouse Mountain, which is about half an hour out of Vancouver. It was not at the top of my list of things to do, but two girls from my room, one from Switzerland and the other from Korea, were planning a trip there. They asked if I wanted to come along, so I did. From the base of the mountain you have the option to climb or take a cable car up. The climb is notoriously grueling, and takes about two hours. Any guesses which option I took? Those who know me well would rightly assume that I elected to take the cable car. Fortunately, Michele also wasn’t keen for the climb, so we went up together.

The views from the cable car were amazing, and even better when we got to the top. On the mountain there was plenty to do. We had lunch, watched a Lumberjack show, went on a chairlift, saw a bird show and even had the chance to see some bears which are housed there.

A view from the cable car.

With Michele and Kim at the top of Grouse Mountain

When we got back from Grouse Mountain, Kim and I went up a viewing tower. I’m not sure what the name of it is, but it was one of those circular ones which gives you views of the whole city. What I really like about Vancouver is that you’ve got a bit of everything. It’s well organised city with plenty of green space, and a backdrop of seas and snow-capped mountains. Beautiful.

One of the city views from the tower

We had planned to go back to the viewing tower that night, because it’s supposed to be spectacular in the dark, but we got carried away having dinner and enjoying the company of other new-found international friends.

The following day, yesterday, was the highlight so far. Michele and I hired bikes and rode all around. Admittedly, I was quite nervous at first, considering that Canadians use the right (wrong) side of the road. But fortunately, Vancouver is rather a bike-friendly city, and most roads we went along had bicycle paths. We started at Stanley Park, which is Vancouver’s largest park, and is absolutely gorgeous.

Just chilling in the park

The track around Stanley Park also happens to run along a number of Vancouver’s beaches.

We passed a number of beaches on our ride

The sun was still shining when we got to Granville Island, the final stop on our bike riding itinerary. This island lies just across a bridge from downtown. It buzzes with people and is famous primarily for its market. the market has oodles of delectable fresh food, some of which I sampled. There are little arty stalls, jewellery, and other novel bits and pieces. I always enjoy a good market. Granville Island is also characterised by an attractive marina.

Some of the fresh produce on offer at Granville Island Public Market

This is the view from the bridge we crossed to reach Granville Island – amazing, I thought.

We returned to our hostel absolutely exhausted, but very pleased with our day. We mustered the energy to head down to the trivia night being run in our hostel bar. That was fun, and another opportunity to meet like-minded travelers.

Today I have been to the Vancouver art gallery, which was good, as well as the University of British Columbia. It’s HUGE. I joined a tour, which took an hour and a half but barely covered a quarter of the campus.

A lovely Japanese Garden on the grounds of UBC

Right now I’m sitting in the Vancouver Public Library, which has free internet access. But they’re closing in 10 minutes so I have to go. Tonight I’m meeting again with some of my friends from the hostel, and we’re going to a night market in Chinatown. And tomorrow I’m off on my tour of the Rocky Mountains. For anyone interested, this is the tour I’ll be taking. From what I’ve heard, these Moose tours are fantastic fun, but the mosquitoes in the Rockies are like rabid dogs. Eeeek.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write again soon.

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