Vancouver and the Island

Arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday, checked into a motel and headed downtown. Had to get the Skytrain into the centre which sounds much cooler than it actually was. We were only on it for a couple of stops but in that short time it was obvious why Vancouver is called ‘Mini Hong Kong’. Chinese and English were the two obvious main languages (in that order) and although it was a nice enough place, I’m glad in a way it wasn’t better than Calgary.

Before we had a wander round the city, Abby made a note on the map of the area we had been told to avoid by both Roy and the Canada book we had been reading throughout our trip. We walked to Gastown and Chinatown and were on our way to Yaletown (where the restaurants and shops were) when we found ourselves right in the middle of the area we were supposed to avoid. It was like something out of a film where zombies come out of doorways making their way towards you from both sides of the street. I’ve not seen anything like it before, some proper crazy people about. A woman was emptying bottles of water all over the street while yelling at a copper, a bloke was counting leaves scattered all over the floor and getting really angry with the wind when it moved them around. Without trying to look too touristy with our map out and ‘mug us’ written on our heads, some fast changes of direction and an extremely quick pace got us out of bumville and back to civilisation.

There is not much left to say about the rest of Vancouver, not much to see as a whole, some nice areas, some bad, but lots and lots of Chinese people. Did have a great Thai meal in a place called ‘Simply Thai’ which if you are to believe the pictures hanging by the door, a place that Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks have eaten. It didn’t look like a photo-shop job and the food was good enough to make me believe it was true.

The best part of the whole of Vancouver was the drive down the Coquihalla highway (well for me anyway). Abby wasn’t too keen on the massive drops either side of the road, the constant road signs saying ‘IMPORTANT: Must carry snow chains from Oct – Apr!’ or the racing lines I was taking on the descent.  Around 90 minutes drive in total, not sure how high we climbed but there was a change of temperature from 14C at the bottom to 0C at the summit. Driving through the clouds and in between the mountains was fantastic, by far was the best road I have ever driven! Certainly a place to test those future 250’s, Leigh and Terry!

We decided to get the ferry over to Vancouver Island and visit Victoria and some of the other places we’d heard were worth seeing. The ferry was pretty uneventful (I was watching for icebergs on deck) but the journey was over in 1hr 35mins.

Victoria was lovely and did remind us of the UK. The weather was about the same and the streets could have been from any northern city. Victoria also hosts a castle and cathedral which we visited and is extremely rare for Canada because it’s such a new country. Most of Canada’s buildings are under 100 years old with the exception of a few in Montréal. Anyway, the castle and cathedral were nice to see but not a patch on some we have back home. There was a lot of shopping available, some nice parks and lots and lots of pubs which is probably why it reminds Brits of back home. Also had the best ale of our trip so far, Blue Buck by Phillips brewery which is brewed on the island apparently.

Looking to get the early ferry tomorrow morning (Saturday) and then try to sneak over the border into the US and make it to Seattle for a few days. Not sure if the hire care is allowed into the USA (we have no proof it is only the word of the woman in Toronto) so we might be touring Canada a bit longer… which wouldn’t be a bad thing!

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