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Canada Diary Part 5 – Falling in Love with Vancouver

Canada Diary Part 5 – Falling in Love with Vancouver

After an exhilaratingly exciting and exhausting series of airplane flights, we arrived safely in Vancouver. The flurry of packing, the rush to the airport, the conviction that we had left something behind, the fear that we would be stopped by customs officials – we got through all it all unscathed and were thrilled to see Mark’s familiar beaming face waiting for us at arrivals after 32 hours in transit.

 

First stop, Alamo Car Rental for our brand spanking new Dodge Caravan minivan – what a beaut! With one really annoying feature – the driver’s seat is on the left. Yip, Canadians drive on the wrong side of the road, eh. Poor Ralph is completely hysterical in both senses of the word. It really is rather funny to watch how panicked and flappy he is behind the wheel. Luckily, as a backseat driver, I have found the reversal of direction surprisingly easy to handle, although my confident instructions don’t seem to have much of a calming effect on Ralph’s hysteria – quite the opposite actually.

DrivingMinivan

We spent our first day in Canada settling in, doing some shopping for our camping trip, stocking up on supplies, and exploring the city a bit with a drive through downtown. Walmart has some new fans – we all love that place! It is fascinating to see the products they sell in Canada – completely different to what we get at home in South Africa – which makes grocery shopping loads of fun.

Walmart

We drove through the leafy streets of suburbia until we reached downtown, with its glitzy skyscraper apartment blocks and pristine tree lined streets abuzz with activity. Ralph was put through his right hand side driving paces as he navigated afternoon traffic getting us to Stanley Park, where we drove through and stopped at some view points and places of interest.

Canada Totem Pole Stanley Park Totem Poles

Stanley Park is billed as the world’s best urban park, a well-deserved title – what an amazing place! We rented bicycles and cycled along the edge of the park – along Stanley Park seawall which is a dual lane paved path (one side for pedestrians on foot, the other for people on wheels) hugging the coastline around the park with stunning views in each direction over the bays and inlets that Vancouver is built around. The park was packed with people enjoying the summer sunshine, and a bicycle is the perfect way to enjoy the natural and manmade beauty of the picturesque city. Ralph and I particularly enjoyed our romantic tandem bicycle – another tick off our bucket list.

Cycling Stanley Park

On Sunday we gave Ralph a day of rest and tried out some of the city’s public transport, taking the sky train into town, and hopping on a bus to Granville Market. Not being used to public transport, our boys were equally fascinated and horrified, and the hand sanitizer was a popular item in our day pack. Granville Market is located on its own island, tucked under a bridge in central Vancouver city. There is a lovely water park for the younger kids to enjoy, and a fantastic kids market. We loved the toy shops, particularly the puppet and kite store with puppets and kites in every shape imaginable.

Granville Island

The food market was also incredible, but very very busy. We made a beeline to the Mexican stand and the kids opted for Chinese food for lunch. More than half the local population seems to be Chinese, so it was no surprise that the food was delicious.

 

The highlight of our Granville Market visit was sitting on the pier, listening to the bizarre and cheerful tunes of “the King of the Ukelele” and watching the flurry of activity to and fro on the water below us – ferries, boats, canoes, yachts, stand up paddle boards, jet skis and even a little pirate ship!

View from Granville Pier Science World and Stadium

As much as we have fallen in love with the city of Vancouver, it is Mother Nature that has stolen our hearts. We headed a couple of hours North for a day fishing trip in the Cheakamus River, near Squamish. Here we found crystal clear turquoise waters surrounded by towering forests enveloped in moss, framed with snow-capped mountain peaks – the Canada we have dreamed of. A few hours fishing resulted in one lost trout, one missed take, and five very happy campers.  We can’t wait to get back out in the wilderness, to breath that fresh air and be one with nature at its very best.

Fishing Cheakamus River Cheakamus River Railway

Four days down, many more to go. And considering what we have seen and done and felt and enjoyed already, this is going to be one hell of a family adventure.

 

Yours in travel

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Did you miss the previous Canada Diary entries? Click below to catch up:

Canada Diary Part 4 – Pre-Trip Panic

Canada Diary Part 3 – Our Rough Itinerary

Canada Diary Part 2 – Getting Amped

Canada Diary Part 1 – Why Canada?

 

 

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