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Vancouver!

I hadn't actually really planned to go to Vancouver at all. But I needed out of San Francisco, and had secured accommodation with a friend later in the week, and was left with an awkward gap of a few days. So at the last minute I wound up booking a flight to Vancouver.

It was very disconcerting, on first arriving to Vancouver, to collect my bag from the baggage carousel at the airport, walk towards the exit... and wind up on the street.

I looked back. Had I somehow circumvented customs? Immigration?  No, it just turned out that flying from San Francisco is basically a domestic flight, and the processing I'd gone through while passing security (without even noticing, because American airport security has so many steps I just assumed they were double-checking my identity) was all that was needed. It was such a stark contrast to my arrival in Quebec that I sort of stood there for a couple of minutes in confusion, worrying about visas, before shrugging and wandering off in search of a train station.

I really knew very little about Vancouver. People had told me it was nice, and not as cold as other parts of Canada, and it gets compared to Melbourne a bit, but that was all! Nothing about what one should see or do in Vancouver.

Turns out Vancouver is really awesome.

I arrived that night, found my similarly last-minute booked hotel after some finagling with the trains, and then crashed for a solid twelve hours, recovering from the insanity that was San Francisco. When I finally dragged myself from bed the next morning, I was confronted with the question of 'now what?'

I wound up hitting up the hotel's guidebook for ideas. The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park sounded pretty interesting and easy enough to get to, so I headed out to find my way there.

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This was one of the first sights I was confronted with in Vancouver. I might have missed the plum blossoms in Japan, but I caught them in Canada! Hooray for Spring!

It was a bit of a trial getting to the park - I had to stop for lunch first, and then find the free shuttle bus, and then stand in a very very long line for the free shuttle bus, but eventually at some point in the early afternoon I made it.

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It was pretty cool! Not really worth the price of admission, and I apparently chose an unusually busy day for it, but it was still an awesome park. Suspension bridges are fun! They were selling T-shirts 'I survived the Capilano Suspension Bridge!' but it really wasn't that scary, the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka was far more unsettling. It wobbled a fair bit though, that made things interesting.

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The gorge itself was just beautiful, though. Actually pretty much all of Vancouver is beautiful. It is an uncommonly attractive city.

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Beyond the suspension bridge the park also had plenty of other walkways, some near ground level and others up in the treetops, Ewok-style (though the latter was only partially open due to construction). I liked the other parts of the park a bit better because they were simply less crowded.

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Another better shot of the bridge just because.

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Just. Giant trees. Massive red wood cedars and pines everywhere, to the point where it stops impressing you.

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In addition to the bridge they also had a thing called 'Cliffwalk' which was also pretty cool and definitely not for anyone with a fear of heights!

It was a pretty cool park, maybe not for the price of admission, considering you could really walk the entire thing in under two hours. I wound up then having to wait another hour for the free shuttle bus back, but I had my phone and 3DS with me and it's really impossible to be bored with those two things on hand. Children in the line watched me with jealousy, mwa ha ha. If I were a nicer person I might have let them play with it but that 3DS was the difference between hating long flights and waits at airports and slow transport, and not caring at all.

By the time I got back downtown there were still a few hours of daylight left in the day, so without much of an idea of what else to do I just wandered downtown for a while.

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It did actually remind me a little bit of Melbourne! Something about the architecture in parts. In truth it wasn't really that different to any other metropolis centre, although it certainly felt very... clean, somehow. Maybe the incredibly wide footpaths?

Also there was this amazing Japanese hot dog stand which was super tasty. Vancouver actually seemed to have a pretty decent sized Asian population which has endowed it with lots of good food and all the other associated trappings.

I went to sleep early again that night, and had to spent a good chunk of the next morning dealing with GDC follow-up e-mails and the like and the usual missives to various friends and family members letting them know where I was and that I had not yet been kidnapped and trafficked to Siberia or something. When you've been on the road for a long time stuff like that starts to accumulate and the usual hour or two every night you dedicate to the internet disappears really fast. Eventually however all the most urgent stuff was taken care of and I had more time to explore Vancouver!

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I hit up Canada Place first, since I'd caught a glimpse of it when catching the shuttle bus to Capilano and it seemed interesting. Canada Place. Why doesn't every country have a Place named after itself? It's like tourist catnip.

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There was this crazy weird net sculpture strung up over it. Apparently the TED talks were on while I was in town! I had no idea, but it was already all sold out so it didn't make a difference. Anyway, this net sculpture was apparently part of a thing to do with the TED talks, was worth a photo at least.

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Did I mention that Vancouver is a ridiculously beautiful city? Because it is. Walking along the harbour's edge was amazing. A+ views, seriously.

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I seriously spent a solid hour just watching the sea planes taking off and landing. It was an hour well spent.

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This is the raindrop! Apparently it rains a lot in Vancouver? Enough that they feel like they should erect a monument for it. Seemed accurate, my first day the weather was lovely, it started to cloud over and drizzle in my second, third day it just rained all day.

I walked a very long way around the harbour edge from Canada place - it took up a good chunk of my day. Also stopped and tried out Tim Hortons, since the chain seemed prevalent. Decent sandwiches, tasty tasty donuts.

The weather turned a bit miserable after that so I retreated back to the hotel and spent the night doing laundry and reorganising my suitcase, because it had become something of a disaster.

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It rained pretty much the entire of my third day in Vancouver, which put a slight damper on things, but I was already deeply in love with Vancouver at this point and refused to waste a day inside. Here, have some randomly placed weird street sculpture. This is probably the true source of all the Melbourne comparisons.

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Since it was miserably cold and wet and rainy, this was obviously the perfect time to go to Stanley Park! I make such good decisions.

Stanley Park is enormous. It's something like 22 hectares of woods and gardens, with paths winding all throughout. And since the weather was so incredibly pants, I had the place almost entirely to myself.

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Beaver lake! I didn't spot any beavers, sadly, but it was still pretty awesome. Easy to see how amazing the park would be in good weather, but wet and dreary gave it a certain sort of gloomy charm. Very atmospheric.

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I wish I'd gone to Stanley Park earlier, because the place is seriously big enough that it would be a challenge to see everything in the one day, and after you've hiked a few of the paths you're going to want to see everything! Also, I am envious of Vancouver's cosplayers, because what a great setting for photo shoots.

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It felt downright Miyazaki in some parts. Deep Dark Wood anyone?

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Eventually my wandering led me out onto the sea wall, where this bridge was looking appropriately doomsday.

I spent about four hours wandering in the light rain, before that rain got a bit heavier and staying even remotely dry became a real challenge, and I was forced to concede defeat lest I perish of hypothermia. (The irony if a rainstorm got me when a blizzard didn't!) Regretful, I retreated once more to the downtown area and just window-shopped for the rest of the afternoon.  It was during this time that I realised where the whole 'friendly and polite Canadians' stereotype comes from, because everyone was just awesome. After visiting Quebec, I'd considered that particular myth debunked, but it turns out you really can't compare Quebecois with the rest of Canada.

My last day was basically just a case of getting to the airport. Luckily, all through my travels I'd been very paranoid about arriving at the airport way before I needed to, and on this day, I needed that buffer. Because I rocked up to the train station intending to catch the Skytrain - that seems reasonable, right? The Skytrain goes to the airport?

Beset by an inexplicable moment of paranoia, I asked a very kind lady on the platform if this train went to the airport. "Oh no, you want the Canada line for that."

Let me repeat that. The Skytrain does not go to the airport.

Why the hell did they call it the SKYtrain then?!

Luckily, because I was paranoid and had plenty of time, it was easily fixed - she gave me directions for getting to the right train station and the right line, and by the end of it I even had (just) enough time to grab lunch at the airport.

So concluded my time in Vancouver. It was over much too soon! I had no idea I would love it that much, if I'd known what the hell I was getting into I would have definitely stayed longer!

Vancouver, 10/10 would live there.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
caterfree10
May. 8th, 2014 02:49 am (UTC)
Yay signs of spring! Very welcome after the winter we had, hehe. xD Also damn, I am loving all these great views. *_*

Next time on Sinnatious' Globetrotting Adventures: Will they ever manage to get to a park on a sunny day? xD //pat pat

But on a more serious note, That park looks really awesome even with the crap weather. I bet it looks fantastic in sunny weather.

And the Skytrain doesn't go to the airport for the same reason the Louisville "International" Airport only travels to the 48 contiguous United States - someone with a bad sense of humor thought it'd be ironically funny. *sage nod*
sinnatious
May. 8th, 2014 10:36 am (UTC)
I really shouldn't complain, overall I was quite lucky with the weather, especially considering I was travelling in non-recommended times of year. XD

Stanley Park WAS pretty awesome even in the rain, I should have totally gone there on the first day instead.

Ahahaha seriously? There ought to be rules about what you can call your airport, surely! (Or maybe they were just being optimistic at the time? XD)
caterfree10
May. 9th, 2014 05:00 am (UTC)
...This is true. All things considered, it could have been worse. Hopefully it improves and makes it even better tho, yeah?

And I think the Louisville airport used to be more international, but then airlines realized it was less costly to just go to bigger airports before doing overseas trips or something. Then they never bothered changing the name so here we are now. xD IIRC tho we do still have occasional flights to Mexico or Canada, but they're not particularly common. :V
teekoness
May. 8th, 2014 08:38 am (UTC)
The Skytrain predates the Canada line by a good twenty years. It was named because the Southern portion is up on large pillars causing it to go through the sky. To add to the confusion, locals often use Skytrain to refer to the Canada Line. 1/2 times when someone asks for directions to the Skytrain, they mean the Canada Line.

Capalino is a massive rip off. Unfortunately it's normally that busy. I tend to direct people to Lynn Valley's suspension bridge instead. (It's free.)

Vancouver has the nickname of "Brollywood" due to the need of brollys (umbrellas) and the tendency for tv/films to film here. I've lost track of the number of times I've been watching something and I find myself noticing the various landmarks from home. Apparently, whenever I visit the downtown library I get teleported to another planet.

Eep, I can literally see my workplace in the pics. So weird thinking of my home as a tourist attraction. We don't have much in the way of cool old buildings or major tourist attractions. One thing they I will confirm is that the real star of Vancouver is nature.
sinnatious
May. 8th, 2014 10:45 am (UTC)
Ah I see, thanks for the explanation of the Skytrain fracas. I felt very betrayed at the time, haha.

I agree that Capilano is a huge rip off. Still enjoyed it, but that other bridge sounds like it would have been a much better idea! Ah well, that's what you get for poor research/planning.

Haha that's a cool nickname! I'm going to keep an eye out for Vancouver landmarks in films from here on in. What movie did your library appear in?

I think you sell Vancouver short! I consider it similar to Melbourne in that there might be not lots of traditional tourist attractions per se, but the city as a whole is just a brilliant place to hang out. Lots of good food and just really pleasant to walk around in, weather permitting. And I only really got to check out the downtown area - there might have been even more gems hidden a little further out!
teekoness
May. 10th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC)
The library tends to show up on tv more than movies. It was in Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. The Vancouver rainforest features a lot in Stargate. The Skytrain doubles a fair bit for other city's subway. Shows like Supernatural, X-Files, Dead Like Me and various others have filmed here. Generally they avoid using landmarks because they are too obvious.

True Vancouver is a nice city. Gastown and Granville Island are pretty nice. I guess people don't think about their home as a tourist attraction.
sinnatious
May. 11th, 2014 05:59 am (UTC)
Ah I see! Maybe that explains why some areas seemed inexplicably familiar. That's pretty cool.

Heh when you live there it's all just ordinary, you take it for granted. Even the obvious things sometimes - my hometown had a turtle rookery that was apparently quite famous but we always forgot about it when we'd have friends or family visit. For a spot of fun you should look up familiar places on wikitravel to see how tourists will likely view it!

Edited at 2014-05-11 06:01 am (UTC)
rafira
May. 8th, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)
seems like a sort of moody, mystical sort of place :)that forest looks so lush!
firedraygon97
May. 11th, 2014 04:15 am (UTC)
Glad you got to see more of Canada! Vancouver is definitely a lovely place to visit - I'm likely heading there again in October. :D

If you ever decide to go back to BC, you should try to tackle the West Coast Trail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Coast_Trail. I haven't done it yet, but it's on my to-do list for sure!
sinnatious
May. 11th, 2014 05:54 am (UTC)
Lucky! October is probably a great time of year for it too~ You should post pics when you do go. :D

Nice, thanks for the tip! I'm not much for camping but I do like hiking, and this looks like a trail that would be totally worth it.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )