It takes us a bit of time to recover after the train trips and the crew on the Rocky Mountaineer refer to this as train legs, we call it train lag! Nevertheless after settling into the hotel and a good nights rest we are off and at the walking again.
Our first day was spent checking out the area and relocating to our final hotel. Did we tell you that we had to buy another suitcase? Well we purchased one at WalMart and as we were walking to the hotel with our cases one wheel fell off! Ian had to carry it the last little bit! Ah, we'll what a sight we must have been!
The next morning we purchased our hop on hop off tickets and started our usual routine of going around on the bus and deciding what we needed to see during the next two days. You really have no idea what there is to see in these cities unless you have a guide and these buses have been fantastic for us.
Our first stop after being on the bus for a while was Stanley Park which is the north western point of Vancouver and covers 400 hectares of land and is one of the biggest urban parks in the world. We had a great tour guide when we changed buses at the beginning of the park tour who was able to tell us all about the park and especially about the Douglas Fir trees. Which reminds me that this Christmas my Douglas Fir Teee is coming out in all his glory so if you don't like the talking he does, don't visit at Christmas.
The Western Red cedars are so beautiful, straight and tall and the preferred trees for totem poles which was our first stop supposedly for ten minutes, but there are always latecomers, cue Ian mumbling! The bus driver said to us that the only difference between a tourist and a hitchiker is one second! Ian had found his soulmate! Another amusing comment was from the bus driver from the Rocky Mountaineer who told us to make sure we took all our belongings as he had enough for his garage sale already. Some of these drivers have been very witty indeed.
Anyway back to Stanley Park. There was a huge storm in 2006 and you can still see the evidence of Mother Nature's fury with parts of the park decimated as the trees, some hundreds of years old, fell like dominoes in just two hours. The trees had been able to survive mans attempts at logging because they were so strong and so close together on very steep ground, but a combination of very shallow root penetration due to the granite they were growing around and their close proximity to each other, meant that when the 100mph winds and torrential rains blew they fell one against the other like dominoes.
After Stanley Park we got back on the bus and went to Gastown which has beautiful Victorian buildings and cobblestone streets and over 180 boutique shops and restaurants. I loved it! It also has the only steam powered clock which puffs steam constantly and chimes on the quarter hour. It really is a very pretty clock as you can see on Facebook. Absolutely fascinating and attracts a great crowd nearly all the time.
After that we walked up to Canada Place and visited the 1812 War of Independence short film and exhibition. Wars seem to have dominate the history here too as we found in the US.
Not content with that for the day we went to see The Butler which is a great movie. Why we have to be on holidays to go to the movies is one of life's great unanswered questions but there you are. Two movies, Phantom of the Opera in New York as well.
To top off a busy (!) day we the ran across the road to Rogers Arena to watch the Ice Hockey match between the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers. What a spectackle that is and this is only preseason, so we assume it gets a lot tougher and rougher than last night. It was great fun, and flat Norah scored again with a photo with Fin the Vancouver mascot. The goals were all shot in the first of three twenty minute periods with Edmonton coming out winners. We were on Edmonton's side but surrounded by Vancouverians so we kept our cheers relatively subdued!
A great day in Vancouver and only one to go.