Vancouver, time zones and next full moon!
As our two children are older and more responsible now, I have started accompanying my husband on overseas trips and that has been possible thanks mainly to his Frequent Flyer programs! We went to Brazil and Argentina in January this year and we have just returned from a trip to Vancouver. Our first trip was when we were just courting. I was living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep at the time, my husband was in Australia an British Columbia was a kind of halfway point for the two of us. We were already married when we went there for the second time and our daughter, who came along with us, was only four months old then and our son had yet been born.
It took us an hour to fly to Frankfurt and then 9.5 hours to fly past Iceland with its now famous volcano, Greenland and northern Canada before we got to Vancouver. We found that the time difference between Austria and Canada was 9 hours, although there was also a 9 hour difference between Austria and Australia, so there was an 18 hour difference between our time and my sister’s time in Brisbane! The two of us kept communicating by email, but most of the time she was already living tomorrow, while we were still on today!
We stayed at the Empire Landmark Hotel in Vancouver. Our room was on the 32nd floor, but breakfast was served on the 42nd. After 5pm that floor revolved and it turned into a bar and restaurant, with beautiful views of Vancouver below! We spent many evenings in Cloud Nine , as the place was called, listening to music and having drinks with our friends. We had a beautiful view from our room too and one morning we were even visited by a seagull!
As the weather was nice, we decided go whale watching on the first day and we were glad we did, as some friends who went a couple of days later were not as lucky as we were! The whale company was serious though and they were given vouchers to go on another trip in the future! It was a beautiful, sunny day and as we were going out to sea on our boat, we saw an eagle perched on a post and then some seals sun baking on the rocks. Soon we saw a few whale fins on the surface and the naturalist observer on board estimated that we were watching a group of between 10 to 15 killer whales, or orcas. It was fascinating to watch them just gliding along, with their elegant movements, which resembled a kind of ballet. For a few hours we forgot all about eating or drinking, as we could not keep our eyes away from them. They would swim along at a fair pace, slowing down only when they encountered a strong current. The boat was not allowed to get closer than 200 metres to them, so the captain had to anticipate their movements, to move his boat accordingly. I was surprised to see how close they got to the shore and they would sometimes also raise their heads above the water so as to get their bearings!
The naturalist took pictures and made notes, as she was meant to report the sightings and the whale behaviour to an institute that keeps track of them. We then returned to shore and saw some people selling shrimp and salmon on some stalls.
The next day we went for a walk around Stanley Park, the Jewel of Vancouver, and we found many people there, either walking, skate boarding, jogging, riding bicycles, walking their dogs, or pushing a pram along. We also saw some young people rowing kayaks, water planes taking off and landing and the occasional helicopter flying as well. We admired the many yachts parked nearby and took notice of their names and my favourite was Just because! We could see the Lions Gate Bridge in the distance and hear the gentle clip-clop sound of the horse drawn carriages meandering through the park. We found many old trees in the park, as well as flowers in bloom, which provided much colour!
On Saturday we returned to the park again, while we waited for our friend Marcos to arrive from Brazil. That evening we went out for dinner to Mr Pickwicks, a fish place that was recommended in the Vancouver Lonely Planet book we had bought. The place was simple, but the food and service were excellent! So much so, that we returned there again on our last night in Vancouver!
My husband and I returned to the park once again on Sunday, but with the intention of visiting the Aquarium and that turned out to be very interesting, as it complemented our whale watching experience of a few days before.
My husband’s World Tunnel Conference started on Monday, so he went to the lectures and in the evening we went on the conference boat trip and we sat together with some French people, colleagues of my husband. The boat took us out to a place that looked just like what I imagine Norway to be: mountains, snow and fiords! We saw some beautiful houses on the way too, with boats parked in front! It was most relaxing on the boat, which reminded me of our Midi and Burgundy cruises: Enjoying the Canal du Midi in France! and Boating holiday in Burgundy, France!
Party at the Vancouver Maritime Museum!
We had a party on Tuesday, but our friend Marcos convinced us to accompany him to the one organized by Robbins, a company specializing in tunnel boring machines, which was going to be held in the Vancouver Maritime Museum. The company was celebrating two successful projects, one in China and the other in my home country Peru! When we got to the museum we found that they had Pisco Sour, Cebiche, empanadas and anticuchos! Fancy coming to Vancouver to have Peruvian food and drinks! I learned that the Trans-Andean Tunnel has been more than 100 years in the making, that it will be 20 km long and that it will transfer water from the Eastern side of the Andes to drought-ridden areas near the city of Chiclayo. Before leaving they also gave me a vase with flowers and a set of coasters of their various projects, with one saying Olmos, Peru! I was thrilled!
Wednesday was the last day of the conference, so together with some Brazilians, we went to Salmon House, a beautiful restaurant perched up on the hillside in West Vancouver, with spectacular views of the city. Amid much fun and laughter, we had grilled salmon for dinner, accompanied by some British Columbia wine.
On Thursday we took a bus and went out to the Museum of Anthropology: a place of world arts + cultures, which is part of the University of British Columbia. The museum was just incredible, as they had to build it in such a way as to fit some gigantic totems! The museum and its exhibitions were just fascinating and we also enjoyed being there at the same time as an enthusiastic teacher with her young students! That evening we walked to Gastown and visited La Casita, a Mexican restaurant recommended by our Lonely Planet Vancouver book.
We took another bus on Friday and went out to visit the Van Dusen Botanical Garden. The place was very big, yet peaceful inside! We walked all around and of note were the Rhododendrons, as there was every colour imaginable and all so exuberant! As this was our last evening in Vancouver we returned to Mr Pickwick for dinner and they even gave us a card signed card by all the employees workeing there! Another fun night when we wished we would not have to leave the next day! We found Vencouver to be a very modern and organized city and the people very friendly and helpful!
Unfortunately the next day arrived. We had to say goodbye to friends and our planes departed, bound for Europe and Brazil, leaving that lovely city behind us. It has taken us a week to get over the jet lag, but we still yawn during the day and wake up at night! Particularly bad was May 27, as there was a full moon that night!
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We stayed in the Empire Landmark Hotel and our room was in the 32nd floor, with beautiful views of the city and the port below!