Tag Archives: Vancouver

Stanley Nice

Thursday 1 September 2022 – Our last day in Vancouver dawned bright and sunny, with the prospect of the weather staying that way all day.  Guess how we spent most of it?  Yup – we went for a walk.  The obvious area for us to explore, because we’d gone in most other directions, was northwards to Stanley Park.  Exploring there fitted our schedule which had to include a couple of other items, one tedious but necessary and the other much more appealing. We had to be back by about 4pm, so that allowed us our usual latish breakfast before we set out – no mad dogs, but two English folk going out in the midday sun.

Our route gave me the opportunity to try a second time at photographing a couple of scenes.  The first was the “Cauldron”, created for the 2010 Winter Olympics here.  This time it wasn’t beset by hordes of people dressed in white.

Nearby was something we hadn’t spotted before – a highly pixellated statue of an Orca.

As we walked towards the park, we were overtaken by a paddle steamer (or “sternwheeler” as they call them in these here parts)

and we walked along the pleasant pedestrian trail, nicely segregated from hordes of people shooting by on various wheeled contraptions, through the gentrified Coal harbour, near which is another interesting architectural exhibit.

As well as trees and general greenery, of which there’s a thousand acres overall, there are many items of interest in the park.  Statues abound:

Robbie Burns, for no particular reason beyond the fact that he was famous, but I suppose the justification could be verse;

Harry Jerome, BC Athlete of the Century 1871 – 1971, holder of several world records, including 10.0 seconds for the 100 metres (1960); and

Lord Stanley,16th Earl of Derby, after whom the park is named.

There’s a miniature railway, which is jolly cute

and of which I had formed a mental image as having a steam train pulling the carriages. However

I was disabused of that notion. It’s still cute, but would be really something if they could actually manage a steam engine.

We’d been walking for about an hour by this stage in temperatures which were officially in the low 20s but which, in the full sunshine, felt a lot higher. So when we passed the rose garden

and its inviting pavilion

the prospect of a coffee or similar became very attractive. The staff seemed a little taken aback by having actual customers, but eventually things got into gear and we got decent coffee, and I had a beer to replace the electrolytes lost thus far on such a hot day.

Our wanderings then led us to the banks of Beaver Lake. At first it was challenging to believe that it was actually a lake

But it was, really.

We then headed towards the trail that leads round the edge of the park, as we wanted to see the Lions Gate Bridge, the large suspension bridge that crosses Vancouver Harbour to the north. Or south, if you’re coming back. It’s very impressive

but kind of difficult to convey photographically. We spent some time trying to do this and, basically, failing, so turned back to walk the waterside trail hotelwards. This took us past a small beach

and towards some further curiosities: a lumberman’s arch;

a kids’ splashpark;

a replica figurehead of the SS Empress of Japan, which took cargo to and from the orient around the turn of the 20th century –

presumably worth displaying because figureheads went out of fashion pretty sharply once steam ships, erm, took off; and a statue called “Girl In A Wetsuit”

Though initially Gull In A Wetsuit seemed more appropriate. Eventually the annoying bird left and I could get a proper version

and we carried on round the edge of the park. There’s never a dull moment: totem poles;

a splendid view of the sulphur processing facility on the opposite shore of the harbour (it’s from Alberta, apparently – the sulphur, that is, not the machinery);

the Nine O’Clock Gun

with its warning

(which is helpful, but goes nowhere near explaining why there’s a loud bang every night);  evidence that the segregated walking/cycling trail had its roots well before cycling became cool;

And even – gasp! – some wildlife.

Heron and harbour seal respectively and unconcernedly fishing and sunbathing (upside-down) as city life went on around them.

We’d walked a fair bit, but it’s clear from the map of our ramblings that we’d left a lot of the park unexplored,

Maybe we’ll be able to get back in some future life and explore further….

As you leave the park, there’s the very impressive HQ of the Vancouver Rowing Club

and then you join the trail leading back into Vancouver city. This gave me an opportunity to get some nice photos of my favourite type: reflections,

including a second attempt at one I tried on our previous visit;


I’m a bit happier with this version.

This brought us back to the city and the first, tedious, one of the two things we had to achieve – checking in for the Rocky Mountaineer, which will be our home for the next couple of days as we start Part Two. Our advance party (otherwise known as brother Chris, who has been about a month ahead of us on his version of a Canadian odyssey) had reported scenes of queues, chaos and confusion at the Pan Pacific Hotel, where a check-in facility had been set up. So we went in to scout out the scene. What we found was just a genteel and well-behaved (but quite long) queue,

So, since I know my place, I did my job as queue placeholder whilst Jane nipped back to the room for the paperwork. Over about half an hour we slowly edged forward and eventually reached the front. Because Jane is superbly well-organised, there was no call for chaos, or indeed confusion; we had all the right paperwork to hand, had checked in online and had our boarding passes; and so very swiftly got our baggage tags and instructions. These included being ready to leave our hotel at 0650 the next day, unfortunately, but, hey, that’s the price we pay for being on holiday.

That then (preparatory packing aside) left the way clear for the second, happily anticipated task, which was to meet the Delightful Danes, Philina and Søren, whose company we’d enjoyed so much in Farewell Harbour. Philina got in touch via this very blog and we established that we overlapped for one evening in Vancouver, so we went to meet them at a local eatery called Riley’s and had a very fine time. They had also had great luck with the wildlife at the lodge – fishing bears and breaching humpbacks, for example – and had visited a couple of wonderful sounding places. It was lovely to catch up with them, and I hope we will get a chance to meet them again some time in the future.

Then all we had to do was to set the alarm for 0530 in preparation for the start of Part Two – The Rocky Mountain Bit. Be assured that whenever I can get time and internet access I will report back, so please keep an eye out for the next thrilling installment.


More Discouvery

Tuesday and Wednesday 30 and 31 August 2022 – Utter Monster Post Alert!  Get yourself a large drink before attempting this one!

Part One of our Canadian odyssey (rugged-north-west-and-wildlife) ended as we arrived in Vancouver on Monday with the prospect of taking it easy and drawing breath after three full-on weeks of Relentless Tourism.  So, how did we spend our first day of taking it easy?  Of course – an 11-mile walk. With lunch. Obviously.

Actually, one thing first.  Having had a late breakfast (our specialist subject if at all possible) we were psyching ourselves up for going out when we were startled by a loud blast of four chords.  At first, since we’re by the cruise ship terminal, we thought it was a ship leaving, but eventually rumbled that this is something that happens at midday every day in Vancouver – the Heritage Horns. We had actually heard them on our first visit, but because we were by the Gastown Steam Clock, I had thought it was part of that performance.  You can hear the chords as the first notes on the video I recorded at the time:

For our walk, Jane mapped out a route which would see us walking around some or all of False Creek and visiting Granville Island, which are south of downtown Vancouver.   Here’s a map of the first 8 miles to give you an idea of the geography:

To get to Granville Island, you can walk down, erm, Granville Street, along which can be found several interesting buildings which hark back to the early 20th century.

We also noticed, in the pavement, some stars.

This turned out to be the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame.  Immediately we started to try to think of famous Canadian entertainers, roughly on a par with famous Belgians.  Quick!  Name some!

Now I can say I have photos of Michael Bublé and Bryan Adams.

We wondered why Granville Street was the home of this Hall of Fame and eventually spotted a theatre or two, and the Orpheum

originally a vaudeville house and now home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.  I hope today’s audience can spot the difference.

We passed an architecturally fascinating building which revealed a secret that I’ll share with you later.

All of a sudden, we found ourselves committed to walking across the water beside a 4-lane highway, which wasn’t the original plan; we’d fondly believed we could find a way directly on to Granville Island, but now were several hundred feet above it with no way down.  We did pass one interesting sight whilst on the bridge, though. All together now, to the tune of “What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?”:

Again, more on this later.

We (Jane) eventually found a way off the bridge and on to the southern shore of False Creek, hence bypassing Granville Island completely.  But since we had a Nice Lunch planned on the island we knew that we’d be back, so we started off on our trek round the eastern edge of False Creek.

Which is lovely, especially on the glorious sunny day we had.  It offers great views of the city

and look! there’s that fascinating piece of architecture I mentioned earlier.  I shall reveal later the secret of why it doesn’t tip over.

The walk around False Creek is very pleasant; there’s a pedestrian trail and a separate and segregated cycle trail (along which the traffic is occasionally quite dense).  As well as great views of the city, it offers

a formally Protected View between buildings to the Two Lions – peaks which give their name to the Lions Gate Bridge north of Stanley Park;

this cute bridge;

some interesting artworks;

and the Science Park.  This takes you to the eastern end of False Creek.  The route back towards Granville Island along the northern shore is equally pleasant, with many diversion on the way.

The “Time Top”, an installation by Jerry Pethick, which is enlivened by a shoreline cartoon engraved in kerbstones by William Ritt and Clarence Gray

The Proud Youth“, a new installation from 2021, part of the Vancouver Biennale public art festival;

an installation which presumably moves as the tide changes;

and, bizarrely, under the Granville Street Bridge, a chandelier – again, a newish public art installation from 2019.

So, by this stage we had completed the circuit round the eastern bit of False Creek, but we were now separated from Granville Island – and lunch – by the creek itself.  Fortunately, there’s a ferry service to take one across the gap.

Aquabus (Latin) – to, for, by with or from water.

Granville Island is most noted for its Public Market, which is a wonder – sort of like Borough Market (for those who know it), but more so.

The area outside is also a very nice and slightly quirky place to be,

and you get a great view of the Burrard Street Bridge.

There are buskers and entertainers Doing Their Thangs – this chap was Quinn – ex-Cirque du Soleil and as well as being very skillful (spot the knife coming in from the right for him to catch) was very entertaining.

We walked around the perimeter of Granville Island to get back to the ferry point.  It was very pleasant in the sunshine, with a kids’ splashpark and play area and some nice waterside dwellings.

There were some shenanigans between a “pirate galleon” (note, though the modern outboard engine)

and a poor sap in a small boat, obviously set up to be a target

and then left to bail his dinghy out as the galleon buggered off.

We passed the Ugly Silos again

and discovered that the faces are, you guessed it, a quirky art installation, this one a spray-painted mural by twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo.  Even the gates and fences of this place (a cement works) were decorated quirkily.

Nearby was a pavilion of some sort.  We never established what it was for, but it has some great carvings on the pillars

and there’s another grizzly bear artwork nearby.

We caught the ferry back to the northern shore across a short but busy stretch of water

and walked back to the hotel  along pavements occasionally decorated with leaf imprints

passing the final photo of the day, another scene with interesting light caused by low sun and reflections.

Oh – I must reveal the architectural secret of that remarkable building which appears to be about to fall over.  Here it is, seen from the city side.

What a brilliant design, eh?

That was it for the day, and we had a relatively early night, disturbed only by a strange pulsing buzzing noise which seemed to be coming from outside the hotel.  I went out to check, and there was a huge thumping and rumbling coming from the port as a large container ship was being dealt with; the low frequency and high decibel count of the noise meant that the sound laughed at our double glazing as it passed through into our hotel room.  Fortunately it didn’t ruin our sleep too badly.

We had resolved to make the middle day of our time here a real time to relax.  No, really relax, and save some energy for tomorrow.  So, what did we end up doing? Relaxing in the room?  A spa session?  Gym workout?  Erm – going for a walk.  Only a little one, honest.  We wanted to see the Marine Building,

which is very close to the hotel. Completed in 1930, at the time of its opening it was the city’s tallest skyscraper – and the tallest in the British Empire – and it is listed among the best Art Deco buildings in the world.  Art Deco is catnip to Jane, so off we went.

My word, what a place!

The entrance is a bit of a clue.

and then you step inside….

It’s a treat for the eyes, it really is.  Obvs, we have many more photos, but I hope that gives you the general idea.

We did a small but important piece of shopping whilst we were out (see later) and on the way back saw the cathedral that we’d been unable to get to in our earlier visit to Vancouver. (We’d been to the Holy Rosary Church, but not Christ Church Cathedral).  But there it was, dwarfed by the tower blocks around it,

so in we went.  It’s a delightful interior – calm and quiet, even though the city’s buzz and bustle is only yards away.

It has a fantastic roof

and round the back there’s a cloister garden

upon to which backs the Bill Reid Art Gallery.

As well as this, as we went to do that shopping and walk back to the hotel, Vancouver had, of course, more street art to show:

and other imposing buildings, too.

The small but important piece of shopping?

Now we can relax! See you tomorrow?


End of Part One

August 29 2022 – Today marked the end of the rugged-north-west-and-wildlife section of our time in North America, as we left Whitehorse for Vancouver. It’s been a full-on three weeks (except for the boring waiting around for things to happen bits, of course) and it will be rather nice to have three days in Vancouver with nothing on the agenda! We can please ourselves as to where we go and what we do. Bet we end up walking a lot, though.

Anyways, we woke to a morning of slightly uncertain-looking weather, with showers forecast. Nonetheless, Jane suggested we go for a walk, so off we went. We headed for the pioneers’ graveyard

at which point it looked like it might come on to rain. I wimped out at this point, not least because I had a blog to write, and Jane carried on with her original plan, to climb the Black Street Steps,

all 250-odd of ’em. The view from the top was recommended, but, frankly, had too many things in the way to make it very rewarding.

The steps feature a side section which allows for pushing e.g. a bike up the steps,

which looks rather like hard work; Jane reports that this chap was suffering somewhat as he laboured up the steps.

The route back to the hotel led past some interesting houses,

some unsuspected lanes running parallel to the surfaced roads,

and some colourful touches.

(Above is a mural outside the Yukon Chamber of Mining.)

Jane joined me in the hotel restaurant, which we discovered sold Empress Gin,

and we had a lunch which featured enormous portions in the hope that it would keep us going for the rest of the day (which it largely did, actually).

Then it was time to get the shuttle to the airport, which sounds straightforward but wasn’t. We thought we’d booked a shuttle at 2.45, which was about right for a 4.45 flight. But the hotel reception told us that there was no shuttle at 2.45, only at 1.15 or 5pm, so we put ourselves down for the 1.15, of course. Came 1.15, but no shuttle. We spoke to the receptionist, who disappeared backstage and the next thing, the driver appeared and said, “I’ll go get the bus”. On the way, he asked us which flight we were on, and when we told him it was at 4.45, he seemed surprised that we weren’t on the 2.45 shuttle – which he was going to drive!

Whitehorse airport is, like Port Hardy, too small to support a café in the departure area, but sophisticated enough to have mains and USB charging by the seating. We had a longish wait, since we’d got there early, so the charging points and the free WiFi were very welcome.

The flight back to Vancouver passed pleasantly enough. We were right at the back, which I don’t normally care for, but there was adequate legroom and it was perfectly comfortable. Conversation with the chap next to us passed the time very nicely – he was a resident of Whitehorse going (with wife and four kids!) to visit family in Vancouver – and Jane took some photos out of the window, as conditions were clear.

Shortly after take off, we passed the hydro dam (bottom left)

and you can see the dam itself (we visited it two days ago, remember?) and the waterfall to the left of it – the barrier forcing returning salmon into the ladder which runs back and then forth past the dam. I think this photo gives a good idea of how long that salmon ladder really is (nearly a quarter of a mile).

Here are some of the other photos Jane took.

the Yukon River;

an interesting cloudbow;

some lumpy bits;

some lumpy bits with snow on them;

and finally downtown Vancouver, with the cruise terminal and Stanley Park to the left of the picture, the colourful port in the centre and Grouse Mountain to the top right.

When we arrived in the baggage hall, I noticed with some bemusement that the baggage carousel numbering started from 0. I really don’t know why, but there it is.

Our bags turned up eventually, as did a driver to take us the 30-minute journey into town and we found ourselves once again at the Fairmont Waterfront, just three floors higher than last time.

I expect that the next three days will take a toll on our shoe leather, but the weather outlook is very good, so I’m looking forward to exploring the place further. Assuming that happens, I may well take some photos, in which case they may well find their way on to these pages, should you wish to come back and check them out. See you soon, I hope.