Canada in 2013 page 2 -- Vancouver/Victoria 11-14 June 2013
All pictures, unless otherwise noted, are copyright 2013 by John A. and Elizabeth B. Lucas. All rights reserved.

Introduction Vancouver/Victoria Kamloops/Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper Toronto/Niagara Falls Montreal Quebec/Baie St. Paul Halifax Wildlife Second Thoughts Technical Details

Accommodation: Pan Pacific Hotel
Transfers: Imperial Global Chauffeur Inc.
Tours: Landsea Tours and Adventures

11 June
We had the local shuttle service take us to Logan International Airport in Boston. We flew Air Canada to Toronto's Pearson International Airport (an Embraer 175), cleared customs and then flew to Vancouver's International Airport (an Airbus 321). We were met at the airport by the chauffeur and driven into Vancouver to the hotel. Our room was on the 20th floor and faced what for some would be a disappointing vista -- railroad yards and station (with multiple types of commuter services as well as classification for the adjacent container terminal and port), helipad, ferry terminal and container port. As we're some form of transportation nuts (after all this WAS a coast-to-coast RAIL trip), this more a source of fascination than a disappointment. We ate in the Five Sails Restaurant in the hotel, great food in a spectacular setting and a fine ending to our first day.

The view from our room (see, there IS sunshine in Vancouver once in a while!). Right to left: automated commuter subway, surface commuter service, classification yard for the container port, ferry terminal, helipad, container port.
If YOU are disappointed, just wait -- Banff and Lake Louise are coming! This is the logical western terminus of the Canadian railroads though there are other port facilities in Vancouver and south to just short of the US border.

The Pan Pacific Hotel above one of the 200 cruise ship visits a year. There were two in port at the same time while we were there. Our room was on the opposite side of the hotel.

12 June

Vancouver is highly walkable and probably even better traversed by bicycle. Like every other Canadian city we encountered, it convulsed with construction. Canada did not experience the depths of the recent financial crisis to the extent of the US, the UK or Europe and it was plain to see.

Our first full day turned out to be a damp one. Vancouver is wedged between the Strait of Georgia to the west and the Coastal Range to the immediate east -- perfect conditions to wring Pacific Ocean moisture out of the atmosphere. We were scheduled to take a city tour of Vancouver which took place in conditions ranging from watery sun to downpours.

As with most city tours, this one intended to give a flavor or orientation to the city. Here as everywhere else, we particularly enjoyed the stops, not the seemingly endless drive-bys of one neighborhood after another. Thus, for us the places that stood out were Stanley Park, the Lion's Gate Bridge, and Granville Island. We also ascended to the Harbour Centre Observation Tower (a glass elevator, first of John's minor trials).

Stanley Park is about a mile from our hotel and would have been a nice walk on a good day. It is widely used for jogging and biking as well as being a major green space for the downtown. It famously contains totem poles created by the local First Nations groups.

This doesn't really convey just how wet it was at this point. Here's a view the other way toward the city. At the left is the convention center and cruise ship pier with our hotel projecting above it. Slightly to the right of it you can see the observation tower.

The Lion's Gate Bridge springs from the tip of Stanley Park to the north side of Vancouver Harbour and was originally built as a private venture to make real estate development more attractive in what is now North and West Vancouver. These cities climb right up the slopes of the first mountains of the Coastal Range -- spectacular views at a hefty price. It was dry enough to shed the raincoats as Beth caught John in shirt and photographer's vest. The day was getting drier!

Granville Island is in what is called False Creek, not part of Vancouver Harbour but the other side of the peninsula of downtown Vancouver. False Creek is spanned by a bridge which dominates the island, but beneath it nestles many artist studios and the famous market -- filled with produce and foods both local and imported. Not a place to visit on an empty stomach. The same can be said for the Granville Island Brewery! Here, John is observing an open air carving studio wishing that he'd left his raincoat on the bus for a change. The smell of the cedar wood was almost overpowering!

13 June
Raincoats and umbrellas were definitely not needed as we took an all-day trip by bus and ferry to Victoria the capital of British Columbia and on Vancouver Island not the mainland. In fact Victoria is south of the 49th parallel, the straight line border between the US and Canada from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean. The ferry terminal is south of Vancouver across the delta of the Fraser River (which will reappear in discussions about the Rocky Mountaineer tomorrow). The ferry terminal is no more than a mile north of the US border (that point of land on the horizon). The border projects to mid-channel of the Strait of Georgia then zigzags among the islands, around the tip of Vancouver Island and out to sea through the Strait of Juan de Fuca separating Victoria from the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

Although Victoria is spread out the downtown/harbor area is easily walkable. We walked on Store Street and Wharf Street, stopping for lunch at a cafe. We did not have afternoon tea at the Fairmount Empress Hotel, opting instead for the tour to Butchart Gardens, but of the women on the bus who did opt for the tea said, "It was regal."

We've known about Butchart Gardens for more than 30 years and had seen television features on them. It was great to see them for ourselves. They were built by a concrete magnate and his wife, primarily in a limestone quarry after the stone had been removed. This is perhaps the iconic view.

But there are many other gardens and features, here are

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