Vancouver

After I landed in Vancouver I got picked up by Eddy, one of the people I got to know while dancing Salsa on the 1st of July. That was really nice of him. He lives close to the airport, but bringing me to the HI Downtown Vancouver was a huge detour for him. Once he dropped me off he went home and I checked in. I got quite a shock about the price. I had a rough idea, but in Canada it is like in the USA. You don´t have the real price written, you always have to add taxes and they vary a lot from province to province and also sometimes they are added, sometimes not, sometimes more, sometimes less. It´s a quite confusing system and I don´t like it. Anyway, I ended up paying $270 for 5 nights in a bunk bed in a dorm. That´s definitely one of the most expensive hostels I ever stayed in and believe it or not, still the cheapest option you can find in Vancouver at this time of the year, apart from couch surfing of course. But that didn´t work out, again. I have to say I am a bit disappointed about the CS community in Canada. So many inactive profiles, people often don´t even bother to decline when you send a request, you just don´t hear anything. Not nice! Since my flight was delayed a bit, it was already 9ish when I finally arrived at the hostel. I wasn´t in the mood to look for a supermarket for groceries, so I checked what was in the free food shelf and found some spaghetti and some left over  tomato sauce that still smelled fine. Once I had cooked and eaten I put about 2 hours of work in my blog and then settled into bed. The next morning I took it easy. There is breakfast included in this hostel and it is actually quite nice for a hostel breakfast. In most hostels you only get like toast, peanut butter and jam if any breakfast at all. Here they also had cereals, oranges and apples, scones, roles and bagels and additional to peanut butter and jam also some cream cheese. At least you get something for more than $50 a night! The doors in the hostel are super loud and the wooden bunk beds creek and shake like crazy if anyone moves. There is not too much air circulation in the dorm with only one window. But apart form that it is a really nice hostel with TV room, library, game room, kitchen and dining room, roof terrace and patio. The price is the same as for the HI Central, but it is a lot nicer and also the breakfast is better. You are a little bit less central, but it is also quieter around like that and you are still in walking distance to the important things. They offer quite a lot of free to inexpensive tours, basically something every day.
I was waiting for Daniel who was coming with the ferry from Nanaimo to visit me in Vancouver. Until he arrived at around 12:30 I sorted my pics from the Yukon trip and selected and downsized the ones I wanted to put in the blog. After Daniel arrived we walked down to Sunset beach, had a look around and a Crepe.

 

Then we went to Stanley park were we walked around almost all afternoon and enjoyed the nice views.

 

On the way back we chilled on a bench facing the beach for a while, went to a small local supermarket and had Indian food for dinner. After it was time for farewell since Daniel went back to the ferry and I went back to the hostel. I took a quick nap, talked to the hostel staff to change my bed from top to bottom bunk and got ready for dancing. There was a Salsa and Bachata practica at the harbor center on Granville Street. Eddy had told me about it, but unfortunately he couldn´t come due to an early meeting the next day. After my experience from Canada Day, I didn´t expect too much, but it was actually quite full and many good dancers there. I could hardly rest since I was asked for dances all the time. I had a blast. They finished around midnight, so I walked back to the hostel and fell super tired into my bed. I got up at 7:30 and after shower, breakfast and preparing some lunch I went on the Lynn Canyon Tour of the hostel at 9 am. It was a 9.5 hours tour and only $14.50 which basically covered all the transportation. The guy who is doing this tour is named Erik, he is a Danish guy living in Vancouver for more than 50 years already, 76 years old and super fit physically and also in his head. He is doing this tour on a voluntary basis for 22 years already. The Tuesday tour I took part in and also another one on Fridays. He is not getting payed for it; the money you pay is only for transport and admission fees. He only does it, because he loves it and from the tips he is traveling. The tour is even mentioned in the Lonely Planet. We walked through the city and Erik had to tell loads about history and special stories of certain buildings. Vancouver has a population of 2.4 Million and the Vancouver International Airport rates number one in North America. The Vancouver harbor is the largest and busiest in Canada. Since 2014 Vancouver has the world´s largest Asian population (outside Asia of course). Vancouver is also called Hollywood North being the third biggest and busiest full-length movie and TV series production center in North America after LA and New York. The movie industry provides jobs for over 20000 people there. We passed the Shangrila Hotel, the Trump Tower, a few heritage buildings and went to the Court before stopping at a café where you could buy sandwiches for lunch.

 

I didn´t buy anything, since I had prepared sandwiches, an apple and cereal bars. But Robert, an US American guy who slept in my dorm the last night got me a fruit bowl without me asking for anything, just because he thought it would be nice. Very nice of him and it was yummy! After a few more minutes walking we boarded a bus to Lynn Canyon. It was about 1 hour drive. We walked around the Lynn Canyon park, had lunch next to a nice river, walked over the suspension bridge and saw the waterfall were the girl in the movie “Kiss the girls” with Morgan Freeman jumped down. The stunt woman doing that jump actually hurt herself there since she hit a rock halfway down. After the bridge came a loop with 200 stairs, some people chickened out on that, but I did it. Beautiful views and more waterfalls.

 

Once out of the park we had another half hour bus ride, followed by a ferry ride back to Vancouver City.

 

We boarded the sky train for a few stations and then had a coffee break in a nice little Café. After that we walked through Chinatown and heard a lot about the history, we saw the narrowest house in the world (not even 2 meters) and looked at the free part of the Chinese Garden. Then we took another bus that drove through the rest of Chinatown and Gastown.

 

I would have preferred to walk, but that would have taken too long probably. We were already a bit late since the group was quite big and there were some slow walkers with us. Last stop was the public library. It looks like the Colosseum in Rome and membership is for free if you are a resident of Vancouver. It is a huge library with more than 200 computers for the public to use and even a studio for video and sound. I would definitely like to be a member there.

 

Another short bus ride and at around 7 pm we returned to the hostel. I went to a liquor store to get 2 empty boxes in different sizes. I wanted to send some stuff back home that I didn´t need anymore and didn´t want to pay for the cardboard box. Since there was a KFC and they had a Tuesday special which was 2 chicken pieces and fries for only $2.50 I got that. I ran into Robert again in there. Back to the hostel I packed my parcel and worked on my blog again for a couple of hours. That night I almost suffocated in the dorm since the Dutch couple had closed the one and only window plus they must have had loads of garlic. I woke up pretty groggy. I used the morning to finally finish my Yukon blog and safe my pictures. At 11:30am it was time to meet up for another hostel tour. This time to Granville Island. We walked to the False Creek Ferry. This ferry is super small, looks like a toy boat. It can hold 11 passengers, so we had to take 2 boats to get all 14 of us over to the island. But they go every 5 to 10 minutes, so no problem there.

 

We first went to the big market hall there. I got some Maple Syrup and tasted a few things they are selling there.

 

We walked further over the island looking at different art stuff, sea food and so on until we got to the Granville Island Brewery. You could join a brewery tour there at 2:30 and as a HI member it was only $9,90. Robert was so nice to pay for me since he wouldn´t have known about this tour without me. Since we still had about an hour to go before the tour we walked on, passed the concrete company and some more nice little shops before returning to the market hall to get a quick bite before the brewery tour.

 

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The group split up there since not everyone went on the tour. We got some safety glasses, heard some of the history of the brewery and went into the brewery itself. It´s super small, but interesting. After that we could taste 3 of their beers. They have interesting stuff, but it was generally not so much my case.

 

We took the ferry back to the hostel after

 

where I finished my parcel and brought it to the post office. Back to the hostel I took a much needed nap after that night with no air, wrote my journal and cooked and ate dinner. Then it was already time to go to the HI Central to meet the others for the Pub Crawl organized by the hostel. We first went into a nice Irish Pub just next to the hostel. They had live music. It was really nice, but way too loud to be able to talk to each other. Another Irish Pub after where I tried a brand of cider I haven´t known so far. It was quite disgusting, super artificial and sweet. I guess I will stay with Magners and Strongbow in the future. We stopped at a strange club like thing with rather electronic music. Almost none of the group liked it so we moved on pretty quickly to the Roxy´s. Usually it´s $5 entry fee, but we got in for free. There was a great DJ and a great Live Band. The club itself is quite nice, drinks are good and there is also a pool table. Definitely the best stop of the tour! At around 1 am I went back to the hostel. The next morning I slept in as good as possible and took it easy. Got a few banking and organizational things done. It was raining so perfect weather for things like that. It cleared up around noon and around 2 PM I walked to the Sky train to drive to Richmond-Brig house where Eddy picked me up. We went to Steveston Heritage Fishing Village. There is a museum which shows life in the early days there and a cute little village with nice restaurants and shops. After walking around for a while and looking at all that we had some Malaysian Dinner. That was really yummy.

 

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From there we drove back to Vancouver to Kitsilano Beach. At the Kitsilano Showboat was free swing dancing that evening, East coast swing. I haven´t dance that kind of swing before. Eddy showed me the basic steps and I discovered that it is basically like Jive. So I picked it up quite quickly and could soon go on the dance floor and enjoy the evening. Eddy had to leave quite soon since he had a bachata class, but I stayed until 10ish and had a lot of fun. I walked back to the hostel from there, which was about 30 min walk.

 

I had 3 Swiss people in the room that night. They were super loud and not considerate at all. They didn´t care that someone in the room was trying to sleep but chatted on and on and rummaged around. One of them even decided to take a shower in the middle of the night. Very nice! I got up at 7:30 since I wanted to do a few more things in Vancouver before I had to go to the airport in the afternoon. After checking into my flight, checking out of the hostel and storing my luggage in the luggage room I took off to the harbor lookout. As HI member you get 50% off there, so it was less than $10 to get up. You have a great view over the city and the harbor.

 

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From there I walked over Chinatown to Gastown. I went to a few souvenir shops, had a mango smoothie and watched the famous steam clock. Soon it was time to walk back to the hostel, which was another 35 min. Vancouver is a really nice place, super green, close to the mountains, next to the sea, loads of outdoor activities, quite some dancing going on, nice people, close to skiing areas in winter, close to Vancouver Island, many outdoor activities and great food options, health conscious people,… Apart from it being so super expensive and not having that mirrored in the salaries (in Toronto you would earn more and have lower costs of living) and all those homeless people, this is definitely a place I could imagine to live in if I ever leave Europe.

I quickly had some small lunch and then Eddy picked me up again to bring me to the airport. We originally planned to look at something together on the way to the airport. But he got stuck in traffic driving to the hostel and it was already too late. So he just dropped me off. Thanks for that again, Eddy! Since I was flying to the USA I had some crazy security checks in front of me. It´s not as bad from Canada as it is from Europe, but still quite time consuming and annoying. I spend my last coins on some snacks and finally managed to try the Timbits from Tim Hortons. First thing I like from them. Cheap and yummy! My left over bills I exchanged to US$.  After 84 days it was finally time to say goodbye to Canada, the second biggest country in the world (Russia is the biggest). This country covers 6 time zones and consists of 5732000 square kilometers with a coastline of 242300 km (the longest on this planet). In total I drove 7820 km with the rental cars I had and took 3 planes. Canada was declared “The best country to live in“ many times and I can definitely agree. I really enjoyed this country and all the nice people I was allowed to meet. This is a great place and I am very likely to come back! There is still so much to see and do and I now also have a few friends there I would like to visit again. Thank you Canada and thanks to all the people that made this a great time and a special place!

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