Crossing the border, it was a comparatively short run till you start reaching the outskirts of Vancouver. I think by 10.45am we were dropped off at the Central Train and Bus terminal. Some questioning later we were directed across the road to hope on the Expo light train line and it was a short 2 stop ride and we arrived at Granville St Station – in the heart of downtown. From there it was a walk of only a couple of blocks up the street to our hostel (dragging a bag up the street felt a bit like our travel of old – I’d only commended to Carol that morning that this stint of travel seemed / felt a lot different from when we were in Europe and other places). At the hostel we connected with Netty who had just finished her Canadian Rocky’s tour so it was nice to connect with family again. It was too early to check into the hostel (the Samesun Vancouver – nice and central and very popular with the young ones but there were a few older stayers as well), so we dropped our bags and with the advice of the hostel (who said the forecast was better today Saturday than the next couple of days) we headed down town to the waterfront. Just down town you have the convention centre and this is the area where all the cruise boats dock – there were a couple in today (these set sail at 4 and 4.30pm respectively). There’s a really nice walk around the waterfront and as we set out the day warmed up and we have a really nice time exploring the area all the way around to Stanley Park – a really nice park area that dominates the main point of Vancouver. The waterfront area was full of eateries, float planes going off at regular intervals, loads of people our enjoying the day, and plenty of apartment buildings.
From Stanley Park we caught a bus back into town and got off in the Gastown area – an older part of town that has made a revival with eateries and shops, and the famous steam clock that goes off on the hour. Can’t recall the exact details but pretty sure the clock dated from the 1890’s??? From there it was a short walk to the Seabus terminal and we took a ferry over the harbour to North Vancouver. There’s a nice market on the waterfront but by mid afternoon the market had wound down and it was just some food vendors still plying their trade. We stopped for a cuppa and to take in the sights before getting the ferry back across the harbour. We staggered up the street – I think we ticked over 18000 plus steps today so a good outing for us. We had a mixed dorm room of 4 bunks and found we had a room mate who arrived in once we have all tucked up in bed for the night – lights on and so forth whilst they got themselves sorted – that’s hostel staying for you.
Sunday, as warned dawned damp and wet but by mid-morning the day was clearing up so we headed up the road and out across the Granville Street Bridge that seemed to just go on and on. There’s a small knob of land on the south side of Vancouver that they call Granville Island – not sure if it was an island back in the day, but nowadays it’s connected to South Vancouver. There’s a popular market on Granville island so we explored all that was on offer and then had a nice walk around the waterfront before looping back over the Burrand Street Bridge to the west – a nice loop. There was lots of comings and goings – loads of little harbour ferry boats – looked like little tugs were taxing people around the lower harbour, whilst from the bridge we could see a line up of ships waiting to come into port. We trudged back to the hostel after stopping for some refreshments and parked up with a book for a time before Carol and I headed back our downtown looking for postcards. We had a really nice walk around – there were some really nice shops, still lots of people out at near 6pm on a Sunday afternoon. There is an interesting collection of houses around and a load of apartment blocks.
Back to the hostel we settled in for the night – which was a bit disrupted again – our room mate (an older chap from Indian I think) had an early start so when he came in he was shuffling some bits around and then he was up early again this morning to get away. Awake I opted for an early walk downtown – keen to see the boat we were heading off on the cruise on later today. Sure enough I found the Norwegian Jewel docked – we will head down to her later in the morning to get locked in for the cruise. Summing up Vancouver – it was another short visit to a big city, but all in all the city is very nice – a lot of high rises – both business related and apartment buildings, the waterfront areas are very nicely presented, there’s loads of float plane activity, and the waterways are busy with boaters and ferries, and cycling is very poplar around the city. There are loads of people around – locals but certainly a good influx of tourists – seems a popular spot ‘with the young ones. Only really disturbing thing for me was the level of homeless people living on the street. Because we were staying downtown we might have been a bit more exposed to this than we have been, but just seemed to be a load of people ‘living rough’ – very unfortunate to see. But don’t let they detract from your experiences of Vancouver – it has a load to offer, and is obviously a key gateway to Alaska for the cruise industry. So that’s where we are off to next – we update post the cruise.