We arrived into Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station early on a very wet Saturday morning, having booked an Airbnb apartment barely a kilometre away. “We don’t need a taxi” I said – “A bit of rain never hurt anyone…”
15 minutes later 5 drenched souls dragging 6 battered cases, 5 soggy backpacks, a cheap holdall and a couple of plastic bags for good measure arrived at our destination looking very sorry for ourselves indeed.
Welcome to the Pacific Northwest!
Our host recommended the Telus World of Science; a great indoor activity and we didn’t hesitate. Having hung all our damp belongings out to dry we took to the streets again, hoping that our sodden waterproofs would cope with round 2. The boys enjoyed crawling through a beaver lodge, building brick structures and creating computer photofits of themselves 30 years in the future.
We stopped at McDonald’s on our way back, only to witness an altercation turn into a punch up à la Jeremy Clarkson, rapidly followed by the arrival of a police cruiser and some swift justice being doled out.
The following day we decide to head downtown and pick up a hire car. As usual, Nick took the lead – ably assisted by his pal Google Maps, who to be honest, lets us down just as often as he gets it right. We amble through Chinatown and the next thing we know we’re in East Hastings Street. Thank you Google. If you’ve never heard of it – Google it (I know, I see the irony.)
There are no other passers by, just residents, sitting somewhat bleary eyed on the sidewalk. A few are awake – they call out “kids on the block.” I look at Nick. He looks at me. “Come on kids, let’s keep going, we don’t want to be late…”
Needles are hastily put away, backs are turned and I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for their consideration. They didn’t have to – we are in their backyard, but they do so because the kids are innocent. We decide to have a conversation with the boys about it later. Seemingly they have noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
We collect the car and decide to head up to Grouse Mountain, where 2 orphaned grizzly bears spend their lives in a protected 5 acre habitat. The rain has stopped and we enjoy a chilly few hours exploring the mountain where next season’s ski instructors are being trained. The Grouse Grind is in full swing and we watch the runners complete the 2.9 kilometre uphill trail. One look from me and Nick knows not to suggest it!
For our final day in Canada we take a ferry to Victoria where orcas play in the Trincomali Channel and at last the weather is beautiful. Victoria, when contrasted with the drama of Vancouver, feels like an oasis; a peaceful haven of beautiful landscapes, serene nature and chilled out people. I could live here.
Before we leave we catch a showing of Galapagos in the Imax – sadly not on our itinerary this year but hopefully one for the future. We don’t have time to explore the attached Royal BC museum but it’s always good to leave something for next time. Driving back to the ferry, we reflect on an incredible 3 weeks in Canada and wonder when we will next be back.
Not too long, I hope.