Back to Vancouver
We were all given coloured and numbered tags on our last day to put on our luggage which then had to be outside our stateroom door by midnight. Each colour and number had an allocated time slot to disembark this morning – we were Green 1 with a disembarkation time of 08:45. After a last hearty breakfast we watched from the deck to see the luggage come out of the hold in the planned sequence and people were called to disembark as their luggage was unloaded in the arrivals hall. It was a military precision exercise with the luggage and people being disembarked. At the same time huge articulated lorries were turning up and fork-lift trucks were disgorging vast amounts of fresh produce to load up the ship for the next cruise starting after lunch today. The produce was checked by a crew member and by the chef and with sniffer dogs!
Dawn arrival in Vancouver
Anyway, we were called on time and quickly found our luggage and cleared Canadian immigration where we were met by a local Travelsphere rep who got us and our luggage on to the coach. 5 of the group were going straight home today but the other 7 of us had all booked a 2 day extension in Vancouver. So (mainly because the flight was at 18:30 and we couldn’t check-in the hotel until after midday) a City tour of Vancouver was planned and we went off on that.
We first went to Chinatown (3rd largest in the North American Continent) and we stopped at the Dr. Sun Yat‑Sen Classical Chinese Garden where the water, plants & rocks are arranged according to Taoist principles to create a serene space. We went through an archway and it was just like stepping into a Chinese park/garden. The rocks used in the garden were imported from China much like lots of the plants, shrubs and trees. It was a very peaceful place amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Chinese Garden, Vancouver
We then made a stop in the Gastown area – established the same year that Canada became a nation, Gastown grew from a single tavern founded by John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton into one of the country’s most cosmopolitan cities. Today, the district retains its historic charm and independent spirit. Just along from Gassy Jack’s statue is the Steam Clock, one of only a few functioning steam clocks existing, most designed and built by Canadian horologist Raymond Saunders.
Gas Clock, Vancouver
After passing too many sites and statues to recall and lots of sites to do with either Expo 86 or the 2010 Winter Olympics, we drove up to Stanley Park – the largest of 230(!) parks in Vancouver. We first drove through the rose garden with lots of stunning roses and then onto see the Totem Pole display. This is a replica display of original totem poles, each of which had an explanation of their meaning.
Totem Poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver
We then continued on through Stanley Park – which by the way had some massive Cedar trees and some equally huge stumps from previously felled ones – to Prospect Point with views over the Lions Gate Bridge (built in 1938, linking West Vancouver to the main part and funded by the Guinness family – because they had property interests in west Vancouver). At the stop there we were recommended to have some of the ice cream on sale there – we did and it was pretty good.
The Lions Gate Bridge from Prospect Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver
We then pottered back along the beaches of English Bay and made our way to our hotel where those of us staying were dropped off. We managed to check in early and after a brief rest we went out to Granville Island in False Creek via a dinky little ‘aquabus’. It’s a bit of a tourist hotspot and has a large so called covered public market which sells all sorts of fresh produce (which all looked really fresh and good – fruit and veg especially), food stalls, some local arts and craft stalls plus some traditional pure tourist shops. Bought India a gorgeous hat for her birthday, in pistachio and pink, knitted in bamboo so v soft.
aquabus to and from Granville Island, Vancouver
We had a mixed bowl of lemon/spinach couscous, an adzuki bean mix and some Greek salad with a big pitta bread and mint ginger orange juice drink sitting outside in the sun. We also bought a huge cinnamon pastry – about 12” in diameter, quite nice but the cinnamon sugar stuff was like toffee and glued your teeth together. Needed a hot cup of tea to unstick your jaws – we still have half left.
Vancouver is currently suffering its worst drought ever; it hasn’t rained in months and everywhere is really dry and dusty and the grass brown with lots of trees suffering also because they’ve also got severe water restrictions in place. Lots of forest fires in neighbouring Washington State are fanning a smoky haze over Vancouver (not good for J’s cough) and there are also forest fires in British Columbia. Looking at the weather forecast this evening the weather is supposed to break on Friday and there will be several days of rain. Good timing for us! The programme also talked about bad weather in the UK and showed film of heavy rain and flooding in Bournemouth!
Went back to the hotel for a rest later in the afternoon, (J is trying to finish the only teddy knitted this holiday) and we went for a meal in Hamilton Street (lots of busy restaurants and close by the hotel) in the evening.