Once I got into Vancouver I made my way to the hostel with the areas I went by reminding me exactly of Wembley. Within 5 minutes I got my first offer of drugs. Canada you were doing so well up to that point. After politely declining their generous offer I found the hostel. Once checked in I did a walk of Granville Street (equivalent of Oxford street) and immediate surroundings to see what was around
. At the hostel I met a chap from dirty Leeds who arrived the day before to come and work in Canada. I passed on the knowledge I had gathered in the past month. In the evening a few of us went to a pub, with people not recognising me and dirty Leeds were from the same country. Northerners ha. Also one of the guys was a German version of Aaron Knight (For you Northgaters). I couldn't believe the resemblance but refrained from taking a pic. I thought he was gonna tell me about the spreadsheets that he uses (The one's I actually designed ;) ).
Next day was an early start as I took a tour to the capital of British Columbia; Victoria. Victoria is on Vancouver Island so was a bus ride and ferry to get there. It is the capital rather than a city on the main island because back in the day when the vote for the capital occurred, the people who wanted Victoria to be the capital gave the people who didn't want it to be the capital loads to drink at a party the night before the vote, so they ended up missing the vote and Victoria voters who turned up as they only had water voted and won.
We were dropped at the waterfront for our free time which I spent exploring the main street and the waterfront area. Was a nice sunny day so had a waffle next to the boats. Also went to miniature world which is handcrafted miniature models of various settings ranging from the American civil war to a space craft
. They were all really well done and you could see the detail on each of the objects, which must have been painstakingly long to complete. After this the tour took us to Buchart gardens and on the way there tour guide kept telling us about the sunken gardens and how great it was and I just thought the hype wouldn't match what was there. Wow was I wrong, it definitely matched the hype and took quite a few pictures. The mix of colours, the setting and the smell that hits you as you walk into the section made me glad I went to the gardens. The actual gardens were about the 1/10 th the size of kew gardens; so saw all of it in about an hour. Got back late, so got some fast food and headed for bed.
Woke up and decided to go down to Stanley Park and walk around the seawall. Although called a park its actually a forest, with some lakes and several trails running through it. The walk around the park was approx 8km with the ever changing landscape of mountains, rocks, trees, beaches, lakes and the city skyline. Then I went walking through some of the trails. I saw an otter swimming, a film crew shooting a tv show, a raccoon and some woodpeckers. Yeahhhh Woodyyy. However the best site was a cricket pitch, was tempted to take a picture. Area Warneyyy.
Whilst in Vancouver the ice hockey play offs had started and Vancouver had finished top of the league so were expected to win the first round easily
. This wasn't quite the case and last year when they lost there was a riot in the city, but think this year they were so shocked nothing happened. Anyways because of the time differences across North America there was usually 3/4 games one after the other. So the common room TV had ice hockey on constantly. Thankfully it was pub crawl night and was the smallest one in terms of people I had been on so far. Our merry crew was 6 but was a good night as you could actually talk in one group rather than hopping around. We went to 3 bars and finished at a club (no ice hockey at the club - yesssss escape). All the members of the little crew survived the night till the end (except the volunteer - tut tut).
Tuesday was an early start as was gonna be on a walking tour for 9 hours. The tour was through the hostel and run by a chap called Erik who was in his early 70's. From Denmark originally he moved to Vancouver 50 years ago and has won awards for this tour. He has run it for 17 years as a volunteer and apparently it is described as legendary on the lonely plant website. We started off by looking at some smaller spots in the city that you wouldn't normally see before heading on a bus journey to Lynn Canyon. We did a hike through the forest and had lunch by the lake before crossing a waterfall on a suspension bridge. Erik despite warning us not to do anything silly on the bridge did the splits on the bridge
. Skills. After the hike we got a ferry across to China town; the second biggest in North America where we walked around and Erik told us some stories about the area. We then got a bus near the dodgy area of town and saw someone shooting up at 3pm in the afternoon. Erik said we should take a picture, I said maybe not eh. As we took the bus across the worst part of town and I can honestly say I have never seen so many homeless people in my life. Other people were taking pictures but I found that disrespectful. Erik said they were given shelter and hidden away during the winter Olympics in 2010. Was a really sad sight seeing so many people in this situation, in fact that whole region of North America (Vancouver, Seattle and Portland) has a serious issue with homelessness and I hope more productive steps are taken by the respective authorities. Once we went pass that area we went to the city library which was built around 2000/01 and is based on the coliseum in Rome. It is the biggest building in Vancouver with many stories. Speaking of stories Erik told us some more in the library about where we had been today. Was a good tour and saw a lot for $12:50. Legendary is a tad over the top but would recommend for sure if you have a short time in the city. In the evening we went down to a comedy club to see some more Canadian comedians; again hit and miss on the jokes but at least they keep on trying.
A bit of a lay in after all the walking of the previous few days; before some more walking to Granville Island which was about 20 mins away from the hostel over a bridge. It is a combination of a market area and theater district. Market was standard stuff and after eating some gorgeous pasta I sat on the bench looking over the city on the other side, listening to the buskers for a few hours; was nice and relaxing. I explored the rest of the island before heading back over the bridge, when it started raining heavily
. A smile crept across my face as Vancouver was the first time I felt homesick and the rain was like being at home. I kept my hoodie down and started humming some coldplay songs to myself as I carried on walking. People were ducking for cover, I'm sure they thought I was made. Ha.
I had wanted to check out an MLS match while I was here and to avoid more ice hockey now was as good a time as any so went to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps vs Sporting Kansas City. SKC are top of the league, so was seeing the top team. The only player I knew was Lee Young Po or as he is known here YP Lee; a former spurs player. They were playing on astroturf and did all the North American Razzmatazz before the match. The first half was appalling, poor touches, no wing play, long ball and barely any shots. The only goals by SKC was extremely scruffy. The second half was a marked improvement and turned out to be a decent game and quite exciting. Was 3-1 to SKC with Vancouver unlucky to lose by that much as they were the dominant team. Was talking to a Whitecaps fan during the match and he was saying how he pays $350 for a season ticket for 19 games. He also told me Lee Young Po was a magician, that made me PMSL in my head but to make him feel better I agreed with him. Lee Young Po was an average left back at best who had too many lapses in concentration. Got back to the hostel and watched the final period of the final ice hockey game of the night. Phew.
Very early start the next day, as I took a tour to the Whistler ski resort. Was a two hour drive and had a wonder round the resort. It was the telus world ski and snowboard festival so there was a lot of "Dude this powder is sick man". Yes it is i said in agreement. Adding the word dude for added effect
. It also meant there were stands showing products off including a playstation stand; fifa street time. As I was in Whistler had to do something active and had planned to go snowmobiling but this was canceled by the tour company so went zip-lining instead. For those that don't know zip-lining is a steel line placed between two locations and you have a trolley which you put on the line and a sack which you sit on and then you zoom down from one spot to the other. We were transported on a Swedish tank to the lines. 5 in total the first being a test one. The second one was the biggest one "Godzilla", 1,700 feet high in the mountains and forest, 400 feet long and a speed of 60 mph reached. Was wicked going down this one with water coming out of my eyes because of the speed and cold air. Next two were a smaller and more serene that I could take pictures as I was doing it. The last one was straight and was all about speed. I asked the guide who incidentally looked like the current Doctor Who Matt Smith how too go faster and once he showed me I went for it Geronimo, could feel the slip stream and felt the speed. Was good fun and 5 lines was enough as would get boring after that, the funny thing was the night before there was a new episode of south park after the ice hockey which dissed zip-linging. lol they had to do 30 lines. Shocker Bro. Wasn't scary but on stopping there was a massive impact my teeth still hurt. Left whistler and had my final poutine in Canada.
My Brazilian roommate invited me too a club and it was international night and most of the people were Brazilian so had no idea what anyone was saying but the club was absolutely packed and it was time to SAMBAAAAAAAA. Was good fun and a good way to end my Canadian adventure.
Only a 24 hour journey to Vancouver from Jasper; most of the time was riding alongside the various rocky mountains, which gave some more spectacular views. Unfortunately this was the first time I got some really loud people snoring and kids calling for their mummy. So after several hours of not being able to sleep, my mind must have gone into meltdown as I whipped out my netbook and decided I was going to write a book. In the morning I read what I wrote and was a couple of pages long and was basically Sherlock with a few changes put in. Think I might put the writing career to one side for now lol.