I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Thursday, 21 July 2022

And finally Sunday 19th and Monday 20th June in Vancouver

I will start this blog post with an explanation.  As you read to the end you will see that we had a 7½ hour delay on our flight home and were extremely jet lagged on our return.  Three days after getting home, Richard tested positive for Covid.  He then gave it to me, my daughter and his son!  Fortunately Richard hardly knew he had it but Victoria and I were quite poorly and I tested positive for 12 days, it left me with extreme tiredness.  We have been home for four weeks now and I'm gradually catching up with things, but I'm afraid the blog hasn't been my top priority 😔  I have finally finished it and suggest that you sit down with a cup of tea and read it, as it is very long!

Sunday 19th June - Vancouver
We had a quiet morning as we had a busy afternoon in front of us. 
Our first trip was a harbour cruise, on Harbour Cruises, MPV Constitution.  However, we needed lunch first as we hadn’t had breakfast.  We bought a foot long Subway, had it cut into two, and sat on the harbour side eating it.
In 1930, Harbour Navigation purchased the MV Scenic, which delivered mail to those living up the Indian Arm. The MV Scenic was the only floating post office in the British Empire. It continued delivering the mail between 1932 and 1968.  A number of boats joined the fleet between 1932 and today but our boat, MPV Constitution, joined the fleet in July 1983 and is Vancouver’s only authentic paddle wheeler.

We set off down the Harbour and got a lovely view of the city and the cruise ships.

This is the SeaBus, a passenger ferry that crosses the Burrard Inlet, connecting Downtown Vancouver to North Vancouver and the terminal in North Vancouver. Each ferry can seat up to 195 passengers at a time and departs every 15 minutes during the day. It takes a short 12 minutes to cross the Inlet. 

After the harbour cruise we took a very leisurely walk along the harbour front as we had ages before our sea plane adventure.
This is the Vancouver's Coal Harbour Fellowship Bell.  The bell and the attached plaques are engraved to honour those many companies and individuals who over the years of 1891-1979 were to make up the fabric of Coal Harbour's long history. 

It was soon time to check in for the highlight of our visit to Vancouver.  When we booked the seaplane, we paid extra for a window seat, which was just as well as the plane was full.  I guess the plane is a 12 seater (I didn’t spend time counting the people!).  We had a quick safety briefing and set off.  It felt weird as we crossed the harbour as it sounded like a plane, but it was like we were on a boat.  However, we were soon hurtling across the harbour before we started to lift off.  The views were amazing as we were so low (the pilot told us later that we were never more than 3,000 feet above the water or as low as 200 feet above it!).  I just kept on taking photo after photo hoping that some of them might be good!  (It took ages to edit them all!!)  It was an amazing experience, and I was so glad that Grouse Mountain was in fog as I reckon our trip over the islands was miles better!  Before heading back to the harbour the pilot took us over the city, what a wonderful way to see a lovely city.  However, our 20 minutes (actually it was 25) were soon up and we came in to land.  I had wondered if landing on water might be softer than a runway – no not really!  I didn’t want to get off as I wanted to do it all again!  These are some of the photos I took from the plane, please excuse the mistiness of some of them as the window wasn’t very clean.

Just a bit on Harbour Air, who we flew with.  Harbour Air was founded in British Columbia in 1982. With two small de Havilland Beaver seaplanes and a plan to service the forest industry, Harbour Air began by offering private charters to log buyers visiting the coast. With growing success and an increasing demand on both commuting and touring service, the company quickly expanded over the years adding daily, frequently-scheduled flights between Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast and Whistler
As it was the last night of our holiday, we were going to have a special meal.  We went back to the hotel to change, but both lifts were out of order and there was some confusion about the stairs, you could come down them but not up it appeared!  All this meant that we weren’t able to change
We went to Earls Kitchen and Bar which was just up the road.  We had an excellent dinner and talked over our most amazing trip.  We could have stayed there all night as there was so much to remember – not that I will ever forget it, thanks to my blog!
Monday 20th June – Vancouver
We didn’t have to leave our room until midday, which was fantastic.  It meant we could have a relatively easy morning though packing seemed to take an age.
We checked out and left our bags at the hotel.  We were heading to Gastown, and I had worked out a tram to take, but somehow we missed the first stop!  We got on the tram and the driver set off before I had sat down, and I fell onto an elderly lady.  I was mortified as I am fairly large, and she was very small.  She said she was OK, but I hoped she meant it!
We got off the tram at the correct stop and meandered down through Gastown.  We had a few pressies to buy and there were lots of gift shops, so we were a bit spoilt for choice.  We found the steam clock and stood and waited for the ¾ hour so we could hear it.

Raymond Saunders' first steam clock was built in 1977 in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood. It was built to cover a steam grate, part of Vancouver's distributed steam heating system. Although the clock is now owned by the City of Vancouver, funding for the project, estimated to be about $58,000 CAD, was provided by contributions from local merchants, property owners, and private donors. Incorporating a steam engine and electric motors, the clock displays the time on four faces and announces the quarter hours with a whistle chime that plays the Westminster Quarters. The clock produces a puff of steam from its top on the hour.
We needed lunch and ended up in the Parkside Brewery Café where we had a very good meal.  While we were eating, I got a text from British Airways to say that our flight was delayed by 3 hours.  We knew what was going on in the UK and other countries with flights, so we weren’t too surprised.
We walked back up through Gastown as I wanted to get a totem pole, not a 20 foot one though!  All we could find were some made out of resin but they weren’t very nice, but finally we found a wooden one.  As we had plenty of time we decided to walk back to the hotel and I’m glad we did as we saw Canada Place, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics cauldron and some other interesting looking buildings.


We go back to the hotel where we sat reading for a while in the reception area, but I could feel that Richard wanted to go, goodness only knows why!
We got to the airport about 6.30pm for our new flight time of 00.05am.  At check-in we were given a $10 voucher each to get something to eat and then headed towards the dreaded security checks - flying would be so much nicer if we didn’t have to go through that nightmare!!!  We walked up to the gate and found a Subway where we got a foot long sub and two bottles of water for $22.  We were some of the first at the gate and staked our claim.  Gradually more and more people arrived including the BA staff who were inundated by people worrying about their connecting flights in the UK, with good reason. We began to realise that we wouldn’t be taking off at 00.05am and, in fact, we finally boarded at that time.  We were all seated, but we could hear crashing and banging from the hold.  The Captain came on and said that we would be delayed as the bags were still being loaded.  This went on for ages, well three hours in fact.  The Captain kept us updated but he sounded more and more frustrated which each update.  The last update he gave us was that damage had been found to the plane and someone was coming on board to brief the crew and fill in the log.  We didn’t hear another thing until at 04.05 we finally pushed back.  We were actually on our way, 7½ late!  Of course, the first thing was dinner – dinner at 4am???  Then the lights went out and were switched on at about 7pm (UK time).  I don’t think any of us knew what time it really was!
As dogs can fly on internal flights in Canada, they have their own restroom!

 Tuesday 21st June – Heathrow and home
We landed at 8.30pm (UK time).  I was very impressed with BA as there were a number of staff there to greet everyone and help all the people with onward flights.
Of course, there is also a shortage of baggage handlers at Heathrow, and we didn’t get our bags until 9.15pm.  We were some of the lucky ones though as I reckon half the flight were still waiting as we walked out.
Our taxi driver wasn’t able to collect us as he had another client to take to an airport.  Fortunately, Victoria and James were able to step into the breach and were waiting for us.
We got home at 11.30pm and we tumbled into bed and slept like babies even though our bodies thought it was only 3pm!
We had an amazing, awesome, stunning, remarkable, incredible, impressive, astonishing, marvellous, phenomenal holiday.  OK, so I asked Google to help me out with the words as really there are no words to describe the holiday.  Since we got home people have asked what the best part of the holiday was and, honestly, we can’t give any one things, but I guess Niagara Falls have to be very close to the top of the list – if there was a list.
We were lucky enough to see 3 black bears, numerous elk and deer, 2 chipmunks - one at top of Whistler Mountain and one raccoon.
I would like to thank some people who helped make our holiday such a success.
Firstly, my new cousin Sandy and her husband Joe who took two days off work to take us round Boston and out of the city.  We look forward to seeing you in the UK in the future.  Secondly, Joanne and Steve in Toronto who allowed us to park in their drive for two night and took us to Niagara.  We look forward to seeing you both here on Hayling Island next month.  Thirdly, another new cousin, Kathy, who sadly was in Europe while we were in Vancouver but had helped me with the planning of the British Columbia part of the trip.  We will see you in Portugal when you move over to Europe next year.  And finally, a couple I have never met but were so helpful with RV campgounds and general RV questions.  Gordon and Miki have a YouTube channel Hike’nRV which was very educational for us.  Thank you so much to you all.
My final words are, if you are thinking of making a trip of a lifetime, DO IT!!

Monday, 20 June 2022

Our Canadian Dream - Days 37 & 38 (Vancouver)

Friday 17th June - Vancouver

We didn’t have too much of a rush as I had arranged for a 10am drop off, but in the end we left 15 minutes before we needed to – which was just as well!  It was a lovely drive with the mountains looming behind Vancouver.

About 10 minutes away from the depot I told Richard to take a turning which looked to me to be the correct one on the satnav.  It was one big road works and I suddenly realised what I had done.  However, the poor old sat nav couldn’t work out where we were and she ended up taking us to a housing estate!  I reset her and finally we got back on the right road.  We arrived at the Canadream depot spot on 10am – I was so glad that we had left early!  

At Canadream we unloaded all our belongings and it looked like we were moving house!  Mokey II was inspected and all was in order.  We had even done less than the kilometres we had bought so I got my full deposit back – not like in Toronto.

Bye bye Mokey II

We ordered a taxi and waited, and waited, and waited.  The receptionist in Canadream phoned four times and each time it was that the taxi was 5 minutes away.  After an hour a city taxi arrived with some new RVers and he took us into the city.

Our hotel, the Listel, is in Robson street which is a shopping street.  We were given a room where we could see the harbour – as long as you didn’t look at the soup tureens on top of the roof opposite.

I had a quick unpack and then we went to find some lunch.  We found a café next door but one to the hotel and had a snack!  You got it – the meal lasted the rest of the day!!

We decided to walk down to the harbour and see what was what.  We ended up by a marina which had some big motor cruisers in but also had some lovely quirky house boats within the pontoons.  A great place to live.

We walked along the harbour front to the sea planes and booked a tour for Sunday afternoon.  This had been my main must do.  Penny and Jim had had one booked when they were here 15 years ago but the day dawned foggy and they were unable to go up, so I wanted to do it for them 😁

A gentle stroll back to the hotel and then we both collapsed on the bed and Richard was asleep in no time.  I just chilled!

In the evening, as we didn’t want more food, we managed to connect my phone to the TV in the room so we watched more of my Netflix downloads.  I still have loads left which are mainly films.

Saturday 18th June - Vancouver

We woke up to light rain. We were booked to go to Capilano Suspension Bridge. I had booked it through Viator but they didn’t tell me where we were to meet or go. Our hotel staff were very helpful and found out that there was a shuttle bus that picked up just down the road. We found the bus and made our way to the bridge. When we arrived our Viator tickets wouldn’t scan. Not a good start.

There is an interesting history behind the bridge.  There is an interesting history behind the bridge. In 1888, George Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, arrived in the young city of Vancouver in Canada. Mackay purchased 6,000 acres of dense forest on either side of Capilano River and built a cabin on the very edge of the canyon wall. In 1889 he suspended a footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks across the canyon with the help of August Jack Khahtsahlano and a team of horses who swam the ropes across the river. The ropes were then pulled up the other side and anchored to huge buried cedar logs.  The bridge, and Mackay’s cabin, became a popular destination for adventurous friends, dubbed Capilano Tramps, who made a long journey by steamship before ‘tramping’ up the rough trail to Mackay’s property. After his death, the hemp rope bridge was replaced by a wire cable bridge in 1903. Edward Mahon purchased and developed land and businesses on the North Shore, among them Capilano Suspension Bridge. In 1910, 48 year old Mahon met and fell in love with Lilette, the 19 year old daughter of his deceased friend, James Rebbeck. He arranged for Lilette’s mother, Elizabeth to manage his bridge property. The plan worked – he married Lilette a year later. Mahon built the Tea House in 1911 and continued to improve the Capilano Suspension Bridge property, reinforcing the bridge with additional cables in 1914.  Elizabeth was lonely after Lilette married, until she met a handsome young forest ranger, “Mac” MacEachran, who was 20 years her junior. Mac swept her off her feet and they married in 1921. Mac was an aggressive promoter, advertising the bridge as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. In 1934 Mac announced to Elizabeth that he had a 19 year old daughter, Irene, whom he wished to bring to Capilano. Arrangements were made to build a new and larger house across the street from the bridge but sadly, Elizabeth died. Mac purchased the Bridge from Mahon in 1935 and invited local First Nations to place their totem poles in the park. In 1945, he sold the bridge to Henri Aubeneau and moved to California.  In 1953 Rae Mitchell purchased the bridge property from Henri Aubeneau and aggressively promoted his attraction world-wide. He completely rebuilt the bridge in 5 days in 1956, encasing the cables in 13 tons of concrete at either end. He developed the trails on the west side of the bridge and converted the Tea House into the Trading Post Gift Store.  Nancy Stibbard purchased Capilano Suspension Bridge in 1983 from her father Rae Mitchell. Her goal, to elevate the park from a mere stop-off to a destination attraction, was realised in less than ten years. Once involved in the management and operation of her own business, Nancy recognised the need to serve and advance tourism in the province. Nancy’s success has included induction into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame in 2000.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is Vancouver’s original visitor attraction with the original bridge built over 130 years ago! The name is actually an indigenous name belonging to the Squamish Nation and originally spelled Kia’palano, meaning “beautiful river”. Kia’palano was the name of a great Squamish chief who lived in this area in the early part of the 1800s. Over time “Kia’palano” was anglicized into “Capilano”: a word that has become the namesake of our bridge and park as well as the river and surrounding area.

The current bridge is 460 ft long and 230 ft above the river.

Here is a little story about the bridge.  In September 1999, a woman dropped her 18-month-old child with Down syndrome off the bridge. She claimed she stumbled accidentally and the child slipped from her grasp. The child was not seriously injured. The woman lost legal custody of her child to the child's father as a result of the incident. The woman took legal action against the owner of the bridge, her ex-husband and the Federal Department of Justice. The case against the owner of the bridge was settled in 2004.

We decided to have a coffee before braving the bridge, but it was awful 😣.  I asked for extra milk then more milk but I still couldn’t drink it - bitter and far too strong. Even Richard didn’t enjoy it. 

The crossing of the bridge was an experience!  It wobbled and swayed and some people had real fear in their eyes 👀. We were very brave and got to the other side but it took us a while to get our equilibrium back!  

On the other side is a rain forest with a walkway (on terra firma). We saw the rainbow trout being fed - there was quite a scuffle for the food. Next was a Great Horned Owl and a Harris Hawk. The lady with the hawk was very knowledgable and told us how they live in family groups but only the dominant female can lay eggs. If the others want to have their own families they have to go off and form their own group. Mama Hawk doesn’t move off her eggs and the rest of the family feed her. Once the eggs are hatched the family then feed the babies!  Mama can have you to 3 clutches of eggs in a year and is 30% larger than the male! 

We then wandered through the rain forest. It seemed to be a perfect day with the light rain. There were some lovely big trees. 

Back across the bridge and this time I was a bit braver but still only looked where I was going!  
Before leaving Capilano we had a light lunch, if you can call a blueberry muffin (me) and a packet of crisps (Richard) as lunch!!  While we were on the shuttle bus back to the city we booked tickets for the hop on hop off bus. Both the shuttle and hoho buses use the same stop. 
The hoho bus was almost full, but there were seats for us.  Our bus was quite old, well actually it was just plain OLD!  The driver apologised about the squeaking brakes and assured us that she wouldn’t be driving it was unsafe!  

We did a short trip round Stanley Park with it’s 3,500 rose bushes, sadly it was too early for the roses to be out as spring had been cold in Vancouver, and its 12 pairs of eagles.  Stanley Park is 1,001 acres and  is about one-fifth larger than New York City's 840 acre Central Park and almost half the size of London's 2,360 acre Richmond Park.  Stanley Park has a long history. The land was originally used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years before British Columbia was colonised by the British during the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. For many years after colonisation, the future park with its abundant resources would also be home to non-Indigenous settlers. The land was later turned into Vancouver's first park when the city incorporated in 1886. It was named after Lord Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, a British politician who had recently been appointed Governor General.

Up and down and around streets, it was a quite a complicated route, but we did get to see quite a bit.  The city is mainly made up of tower blocks which gives it an amazing skyline.  We crossed over False Creek which, in fact, isn’t a creek at all!  George Henry Richards named it during his hydrographic survey of 1856-1863. While traveling along the south side of the Burrard Inlet, Richards thought he was traversing a creek; upon discovering his error, he gave the inlet its current name.

We got off the bus at Granville Island.  It isn’t in fact an island but a peninsula which was originally used by the Musqueam First Nations as a fishing area.  Apparently the city of Vancouver was called Granville until it was renamed in 1886, but the former name was kept and given to Granville Street.  The island is famous for it’s market which I was reluctant to got to as I knew that I would see things I wanted to buy and couldn’t!  The were lots of take-away stalls and fruit and veg stalls.  I so wanted to buy some fruit.

We went back to the bus stop and saw this

We waited for about 40 minutes as each bus that came along was pretty much full.  We had to wait for 4 before we got on.  We were told that there were 10 people at the next stop who had been waiting for 2 hours – not sure I believe that.  We finished our tour and got off where we started.  The tour was excellent and we saw and learnt a lot – I’m just not sure about the buses though 😕

We decided to find somewhere to have an early dinner and I saw a burger place called Red Robin, so we gave it a go.  It had a good menu and the food was good too, but not as good as the burger we had in Victoria.

Back to our room for more Netflix.