Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 3 - Vancouver North Shore

Capilano Canyon and Grouse Mountain
Had a bit of sleep in today because was up until late sorting my photos and chatting with the family back in Australia. I had to repack as well because I was moving rooms so I could start the tour tonight.  I was officially sharing so very frustrating having to repack but got there in the end.  I had to get Alison to print out some stuff for me which I forgot to print which was very annoying.  So ducked across the road to see her and brought a nice warm jacket so I am officially Canadian up with the beanie that I got yesterday and my new jacket. 

The hotel recommended that I catch the free bus to capilano so I took off to the hyatt and got to see more of the city as I power walked thru the city.   My feet were really starting to feel the walking from the day before. But then again I am carry my weight plus the weight of my backpack which is understandable. 
I loved the drive to capilano the homes were so beautiful and quaint shadowed by the mountains even though it was still really misty. At least it has stopped raining.  The shuttle bus driver as a abolsute character and complete nut job… but very funny he kept us amused for the 30 mins drive. Capilano was so pretty and quaint.

the sign as you come in 

I love the colours in this 

Expensive but worth it.  I undertook a history tour when I first got there.  

the Story centre 
He took us through the history of the park and how it was purchased 2 centuries ago because of the amazing hunting that was in the area. They decided to build the suspension bridge because that is where their property was located but couldn’t done the canyon to cross the river. So they had to journey down river for 10kms to be able to cross so it would take 2 days just to cross the river for the good game.  Then word got out amongst the locals that the suspension was a sight to be seen and tourists starting arriving and they started to charge a dime 5cents for each crossing which was in 1889. Then the park kept on getting sold on to different owners and they took us through the different owners and their sordid pasts. J Each of the park staff were dressed in the period costumes and was very well done. Especially the guy that met the bus he was like the mayor but .. only younger and very cute. Just wished I had gotten a photo of him.  We got introduced to the kai plano totem poles and what role they play to the first nations. We met a carver called ben and he took us through the stories of the totems and what each one represents and what the significance is.  He also showed us how he carves them. We then were off to cross the bridge. I decided to wait…

The entrance to the bridge
about the bridge

Like the big scardy cat that I am I didn’t want to be on the bridge while everyone else was on there because I didn’t know how I would go so high up and swaying at the same time. I wandered around the gift store.  And finally made my way onto the bridge. Camera looped around my neck and me holding on very tightly.  I stopped a couple of times going over to just take it all in but it is hard to photograph with one hand so gave in and took my hand off the bridge and just got the shots that I wanted.  I was probably on the bridge for 5 mins as it is very long and you have to wait for everyone to take their turn with the photos. Made it across to the other side and found a whole another world and adventure.

Me standing on the squirrel

They had a nature walk and tree tops walk so I did the tree tops walk which is a smaller version of the suspension bridge. It was really cool with the bridge build around all the older cedars.  Walking to the walk I stopped because I was changing my lenses and also to get out my smaller point and shoot and iphone.  At that moment… I saw…  my first squirell…  it was so cute but soooo fast so didn’t get a photo but got a photo on my shoes as a I STOOD on the squirrel when he ran under me on the walk way.  I loved the tree tops…  it was so beautiful and wet and so cold but beautiful clean air…  I then went down and did the nature walk which was great and the types of animals that live on the forest floor and got some amazing shots overlooking the canyon on all my cameras…  Yes I just said all my cameras…  I really loved it in there the scenery was just amazing.  Because there were a number of people there they were spending a fair bit of time at the photo spot so I sat down on the stairs and changed lenses and took it all in.  I loved the atmosphere of the place and quiet and just enjoyed. I took a photo on my iphone and decided to overlook the roaming charges and sent a picture and birthday message to the wonderful Kell.  I was definitely enjoying her birthday for her.  Just had to make sure I didn’t send it too early or I would have woken her up since Australia is a day ahead.  It will be a interesting phone bill when I get back home. 

I crossed back across the sway bridge especially considering how much my feet were aching but spent more time on the bridge as I had a brief glimpse of sunlight!!!  Yes sunlight peoples sunlight…  the cloud and mist was still there but sunlight was starting to poke through.  I took some great shots from the bridge looking both ways along the cnayon – I would have liked to go down to the canyon floor but that didn’t seem possible.  But enjoying the enormity of the suspension bridge was enough.

I grabbed some lunch and was chatting with a tour bus operator and he was from the USA and loved his job.  But he did suggest that I head up to Grouse Mountain despite the cloud and fog because it was clearing. 
So caught the local bus up the mountain and went past some amazing homes and it was so amazing to live on the sides of the mountain.

Caught a glimpse of dam just at the base of the mountain and it was massive. 

Even though I couldn’t see the top of Grouse Mountain I decided to go up and try it.  The ride up was awesome and I realised I am not as scared of heights as I thought.  The mist over the trees and looking back over the city as amazing…  nothing short of beautiful the massive cedars rising up and I saw a wolf languishing off to the side enjoying the rare glimpse off the side.  They are local to the area so you can see them any time.  Once I got up there I went and watched the national geographic special on the 2 bears that they have living onsite. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that it was all benches and no backs. The poles hurt my back after a while but then again I think because my feet were tired and feeling like I was getting a cold.  I just wandered around the grounds and saw the bears and enjoyed the view. I wish I had gone up on the ski lift but it was freezing and thought it was another cost as it was more expensive to get up there than Capilano.
Personally I think Capilano presented better value for money. 
I went out to the observation deck and sat out there and enjoyed the sun for about 40mins while watching the clouds move across the mountain and the city.  What I got to see was beautiful and very scenic with the sun coming across the ocean onto a cargo ship. 

Headed back down via the gondola and then caught the bus back into town.  The bus went through the suburbs which were so quaint and pretty nestled into the hills. Pretty much your stereotypical northern American home but they do front porch really well in comparison we do the back deck really well.  Caught the seabus from Lonsdale across to Vancouver which was beautiful coming across the bay into the city. So pretty especially the sun began to dip lower.  I took a couple of  shots overlooking the ocean and then caught the train from waterfront to the station near the hotel.

Hanging baskets are everywhere in Vancouver and later discovered in all the small towns 

By the time I got back there was a meeting of the tour group. Just gave me chance to meet the group but the girl I was sharing with wasn’t there but met her when finally made it up to our room. I had agreed to go out to dinner with one of the girls…  but I dragged her along to take some city photos which turned out ok.
the science centre 

We just found our way to the IGA which seem to be as proflific as starbucks…  but much cheaper than Australia… by now it is 8.30pm I was starving and tired as so I just wanted to get something to eat so I got maccas yes I know before you all start yelling at me..  but I did learn something.  Their large is our super-size.  So never again…  my only 1 experience so far with Maccas overseas.  Went back to the room and got to know my roomie for the next few weeks…  it is going to be interesting because she is a early to bed and early to rise and I am the opposite…  but 7 days in we are doing well…  J

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 2 - Horseshoe Bay to Granville Island to Gastown

After my 12 hours of sleep I got woken up by my wonderful Facebook friend Alison ..  Somehow slept through my alarm..  set it on aussie time not Vancouver time.  So she went off to the obligatory hot chocolate starbucks which are EVERYWHERE!!!!  And I got ready.  When I met her in the lobby she had it in her hand my very warm and tasty hot chocolate and ready to tackle the very wet and cold day in Vancouver. 

She took me to the northshore..  through the city fringes which I hadn’t come in that way yet. I learnt that Vancouver has pedestrian controlled cross walks because some of them flash on the green ..  Which I thought was great…  then we headed out past the entrance to Stanley Park .. which looked soo pretty and couldn’t wait to see it on Tuesday.  The we headed out along the Lions Gate bridge which was beautiful – almost a mini golden gate bridge. It was very beautiful even shrouded in the mist.  She explained to me that this side of town is partly owned by the first nations with them building homes on the north shore as you cross the bridge.  Then we passed into the north shore which is very similar to the Sydney north shore. She also said the homes were worth million and millions of dollars and they are Asset rich and cash poor.  But the housing was amazing..  even through the drizzle it was so pretty. 
Loins gate bridge
So amazingly lush and green compared with Australia even in our rainforests.  As Alison said it is so lush and green because it rains so much.  They have had a lot of rain this year. But soooo pretty amazingly pretty I loved it.  I wanted to move there. We headed to horseshoe but got confused at the roundabout due to the signage… apparently Canadians aren’t used to roundabouts the way we are.  We ended up at this little cute park called Whytecliff Park on this bluff that overlooked the Vancouver islands.  We wandered down to this little beach where some scuba divers were learning how to dive.  The dreariness and the darkness of the pebbles just made it a stunning contrast. I loved it even though I was getting soaked from the rain. Don’t worry Carmel…  the camera was being protected very well by the jacket and the jacket was doing a great job of protecting me.  The jacket I almost didn’t take because I felt like it was too heavy and too bulky but it has kept me dry and warm.  A couple of things that I discovered while were at that park is that it is really hard to take photos in the rain and that Canadian love to put plaques on everything and they are very poignant in some cases.  

I loved the moodiness of this shot

for carmel
for carmel
Another one for carmel
the cute beach

the plaques 
across the bay
the yacht 

We dragged our wet selves back to the truck and headed back to horseshoe bay.  Horseshoe Bay has the ferry arriving from Naminio and it quite a stunning spot. With a cute wharf and boathouse restaurant which apparently is amazing and famous to vancouverians. Alison was educating me on the sea life which is in the area.  It was a such a cute little spot and we stopped for our obligatory starbucks.. even this cute tiny tiny town there is a starbucks!!! They are everywhere…  
the jetty at horseshoe bay 

we headed off to Granville..  I had my first experience on the trans Canada highway which was cool but choked with traffic even on a Sunday …  the Vancouver is probably as big Melbourne with majority of residents living close to the city so the traffic was understandable but we also caught the ferry traffic.  She showed me where I would be going if I went to capilano canyon the following day.  It was such a pretty drive into the city. We decided to drive to Granville… due to the awful weather.  Granville was so cute.. And pretty and very funky. We enjoyed some lunch/breakfast overlooking the rain sodden city which believe or not was very pretty.  I ventured out along the little wharf and got some photos of the city with iron Workers Bridge which looked stunning. We wandered through the little shops and markets and I got some great shots of the fruit and how they display them. The shops were fantastic.. some stuff like any market overpriced for what they were but we found this very cute paper shop and it was fantastic and such unique things and very reasonably priced.  I picked up some postcards so I can remind myself of it in years to come. But I really do hope I will be back one day.  It is a beautiful country with such contrasts from the city to the mountains.  They do tourism really well here.

the beautiful arranged fruit

the shalacked veggies ready for halloween
the cute sunflowers 
Iron workers bridge
the toy company
i loved the colours in this one 
i loved the name of this ...  their fun run 
can you guess what this is made from 

I really loved Granville we wandered I think for about 4-5 hours..  saw the amazing toy company with their very own entry for the kids.. which was so cute..  I almost brought some strawberry shortcake stuff but decided to wait for the USA for those sorts of purchases.  Vancouver is priced around the same price for Brisbane and Australia for the souvenirs and the foods.  Some things are cheaper but it is a enjoyable city and easy to navigate.  I have kept on losing my sense of direction whenever we crossed the river I am not sure why because I am usually pretty good with those sort of things.  We went to Gastown for dinner and of course it was raining but it was showing the steam.  We wandered through the few tourist shops and found some cute stuff. It is really geared for the tourists.  It is an area that was originally first settled when Vancouver was built. You can see patches on bitumen that have the original cobblestones showing through.  Which look very cool but annoying to drive on. There was a monument just near the streets of Gastown which was a memorial to World War 2 soldiers and they used helmets as covers for the lights.  The area backs onto to the port so it is a working area with the massive cranes and railway lines.  We decided to go eat at the old spaghetti factory which was really yummy and the ambience was so cool. It was so amazing with a old tram in the middle of the restaurant and the lights were leadlight and beautiful colours. I loved it and didn’t want to leave. The food was cheap and yummy and I had the spaghetti and meatballs with salad for starter and then authentic ice cream which was like our neopolatian but it was pistachio, chocolate and vanilla. I really loved it. When we walked out the street which is a tiny and short was lit up with fairy lights and looked so beautiful.  We ended up catching the train back to the near the hotel.  it was a big day.  

the beautiful lights and hanging baskets 
the steam clock
what is is all about 
so pretty 
such a funky sign
the old spaghetti factory tram
penny farthing at the entrance
the amazing lead light 

We had our first real introduction to the pan handlers and druggies that frequent the area.  They are everywhere.  Some are genuine some not. The security handles them pretty well and moves them on. They have signs everywhere that tells you to not to sell your ticket to them and to throw your ticket away and that it is a offence. However, they don’t have anyone checking your tickets … it really feels like a honour system. 
Finally back at the hotel around 9.30pm and said goodbye to the wonderful Alison. I was so grateful for her time and her knowledge!  Thank you again I so loved the day and it just made my day which would have been so dreary.  J