23.10.2011 - 30.10.2011 10 °C
Have just finished our week in Vancouver. Despite this being our last week in Canada, there has been no let up in the packed itinerary. After our wonderful visit to Whistler, Vancouver turned on its waterworks and the rain tumbled down for Wednesday. Robbo said farewell to the Chevy Impala we'd rented for our time in Canada. After four weeks and a lot of miles, Robbo had pretty much had his fill of driving on the other side of the road. So, he dropped the rest of the family off at the Vancouver Science Centre, returned the beast and had the luxury of a taxi ride back.
Our day at the Science Centre was good fun - lots of hands-on activities for the kids and a science experiment show every hour. The demos would have a specific theme like Cold, Bubbles and Air and the presenters would get the kids in the audience up to do some of the experiments. It was a really entertaining and enjoyable day. Downtime was spent at the huge Vancouver Library. It was only a 200m walk away from our hotel so was very convenient. A much better place to hang around and wind down for the evening than our hotel room, I must say.
On Thursday, the weather was cold but fine so we decided to hire some bikes andcycle around the beautiful Stanley Park. Anyone who visits Vancouver must come to this place and biking it is a great way to do it. Encircling most of the inner city is the seawall, a 40km walking/cycling track that takes you along the waterfront that borders most of the city. Gloves certainly would have been handy (pardon the pun) as we cycled along. The three main mountains that look down on the city from the northern outskirts had their first light frosting of snow for the year so we were zipping along into a rather chilly breeze and when you were on the shady sections of the ride - Bbrrrrrr! Just as were feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, I looked over a saw a guy stand-up paddle boarding in the harbour. Another's misery always cheers me up! Honestly, the few hours we had the bikes flew by as the scenery - the blue ocean, the icing sugar covered mountains, lush green grass and stunning Fall colours of the trees - just sucked you in. While the bike hire was pretty expensive, it was certainly worth the money to see such a fabulous place on such a beautiful day in such a fun way.
Friday brougt more rain and we went off to visit Granville Island. This is a little peninsula south of downtown which is dedicated to public markets and lots of quaint shops and galleries. The food markets were filled with tasty stuff and groovy stalls. After the morning there, Lesley and Angus went wandering while Giaan and Robbo ripped about on ferries, buses and the convenient light rail system - the Skytrain.
The city has a lot of homeless people on the streets and, at times, the vibe was fairly uncomfortable. This might be due to our own feelings of sadness for these people's situations more than any feeling of being threatened but, either way, you kept your eyes open. Because Vancouver has one of the mildest climates in Canada, more homeless people come here so the problem is more visible (especially in Winter).
Saturday, our last full day in the city, saw Lesley and Angus head to Granville Island again. Giaan and Robbo used the train to get to some of the spots we hadn't seen yet like Gastown and Canada Place.That night, Angus and Robbo went to a Canadian Football game at the big enclosed stadium - BC Place. This was only 2 blocks from our hotel. While we would have liked to see a big ice hockey match, the tickets were very expensive (about $300 for the family!), so the BC Lions vs Edmonton Eskimos was a good option for the boys. While the game itself has loads of stoppages (1 hour game lasts 3 hours!), the atmosphere was good with lots of the crowd dressed up in Halloween costumes. Fun but Robbo will stick with rugby and Angus with soccer.
Caught the bus to Kamloops on Sunday in the pouring rain. The coastal mountains are such a rain block that, within 5 kms of reacing the summit of the Coquihalla Highway, the rain disappeared and the sun was blazing away. We arrived and it was agin wonderful to see our godd friends, Barb and Brian. It'shardtobelieve that, in only a week or so, we'll be home on the other side of the world.
Halloween beckons and will write more soon.