A Travellerspoint blog

Vancouver

Welcome to Canada

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The ship docked in Vancouver around 7:30am local time. Because Princess had us fill out customs forms before we disembarked, it was a breeze coming into Canada. The officers never even looked at our passports. First stop was backpacking to our AirBnB which fortunately was only a few blocks away because these packs are heavy! If we had known there was a laundromat on the ship, we would have only packed half as many clothes. And the laundromat was right across the hall from our cabin! When we arrived at our location we were surprised to see the building was named Orca Place. How appropriate since we had just seen a lot of orcas! It was a very cute apartment on the 7th floor with views of other high rises and a large mural on the building next door of a scene straight out of our Alaska cruise.

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After unpacking, we headed to the visitors center for info and tips. We had been told before we left that we must see Victoria while in Vancouver but after learning that it was an 8-hour roundtrip via ferry and bus, we decided to pass on that excursion this time. So we decided to do what we normally do when we first arrive at a new location and that’s find a cool place to grab a pint of local beer. Only two blocks from the visitors center, we found Steamworks Brewing and when we saw a Canadian staple (and delight!), poutine, on the menu we decided to eat as well. Poutine comprises French fries and cheese curds covered with brown gravy. And we added some pulled pork. Yum!

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One recommendation from the visitors center was to see Granville Island’s public market so off we went via city bus. The market was filled with local merchants selling everything from cheese, meats, and produce to baked goods and crafts. We decided that we’d go ahead and buy some groceries to take back to the apartment for breakfast and for lunches that we could make to take with us on our explorations. We also grabbed a bottle of British Columbia pinot noir and headed back to the room to enjoy some of our newly acquired morsels.

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The next morning we took the advice of our helpful visitors center advisor and boarded the bus to the University of British Columbia to see their Museum of Anthropology which overwhelmed us with displays of their First Nations cultures as well as very nice exhibits on puppets and European ceramic dishes. Most impressive! We ate our home-made lunches in the museum cafe along with a bowl of their home-made tomato soup and then caught the bus back downtown to our next recommended site.

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Gastown is the name for the original, old downtown section of Vancouver with its famous landmark, the Steam Clock, one of only a few steam operated clocks in the world. We strolled through the avenues shopping and enjoying the sights when we spotted the Irish Heather pub where, of course, we had to stop in for another local draft and where all drafts are imperial pints (20 ounces). Nice!

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Gastown is right next to Chinatown so after a little more shopping and sightseeing, we ventured there in search of a dinner spot. As most Chinatowns do, this one also had a very prominent entrance. We ended up at Sai Woo where we feasted on Szechuan flank steak, cauliflower, bok choy, and pork dumplings. Reasonably priced and tasty. Then, we worked our way back to the apartment and paused at a little bistro/bar across the street by the name of Tableau to check out their cocktails and ended up staying for over an hour. It was a nice, cozy place.

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Friday, we took the free shuttle to Grouse Mountain to ride the sky tram and see Vancouver from 3,800 feet, but unfortunately, foggy clouds set in and didn’t lift until the ride back down on the tram. But we did see the two grizzlies that were rescued as toddlers 18 years ago before British Columbia had a grizzly rescue program. One was found wandering alone far from any other grizzlies and one’s mother was killed by a car. So a local veterinarian, along with researchers, brought them to Grouse Mountain and built a 5-acre retreat for them. Otherwise, they would have been euthanized. Below is a photo of one of them playing in a pond. Who would think a grizzly bear could be so cute? We also watched a very entertaining lumberjack show. We would definitely recommend this place, even though it was sort of touristy, but try to book it when the skies are clear. It was a bummer to only see part of the scenic vista as we were leaving, however it was kind of cool to take the tram and especially the chair lift into the clouds.

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Strolling around Vancouver and checking out the many interesting sites, we also noticed a Chronic Tacos which is a franchise that a relative is considering purchasing for Wilmington, NC, so we had to check it out. The food was good but pretty typical franchise food. It appears to be basically a Moe’s for tacos. It would have been nice if they also had offered hard taco shells and fresh jalapenos.

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Finally, we’re on our way home, and the plane took us right over Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Hood. A great trip! But you know how it is, it's great to be home, too.

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Posted by travelswitz 11:18 Archived in USA

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