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Tuesday 17th October

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Wednesday 18th October

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Thursday 19th October

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Friday 20th October

 

Tuesday 17th October

Woke at 9 a.m. and had breakfast in the coffee lounge.  When we'd finished we waited for our pick-up at 10 a.m. with West Coast City and Nature Sightseeing.   The driver was absolutely fantastic, a young chap from Toronto.  So laid back that he nearly fell off his seat!    We visited quite a few highlights around the city - Canada Place, Robson Street (the main shopping area), Stanley Park.  We stopped here for a wander around, but we were a bit disappointed as the area of the totem poles was being redone, and there was scaffolding all round it.  However, the Park gave us great views over to the city skyline.  It drizzled a tiny bit but as the guide gave us umbrellas from the bus to use, this wasn't a problem. Then we went on to Prospect Point, with a great view of Lions Gate Bridge, English  Bay, Granville Island Markets, Shaughnessy Estates (with huge mansions).    The Granville Markets were very interesting and we bought food to have in our room for dinner that night.  There was food of all sorts here.  It reminded me of the Prahran Markets in Melbourne, which I've been to with Jamie.  I also spotted a Dragon Shop and after much deliberation bought a dragon brooch.  Our guide told us that Vancouver is struggling at present - timber is very cheap and sawmills are closing right left and centre.   We then went on to Queen Elizabeth Park, which is named after the Queen Mum,  following a visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in the great old year of 1939 - a very important year!   The park was beautiful - lovely leaves, and a magnificent garden set up in an old quarry.    When we left there, we drove on through China Town and Gas Town to the Lookout, where we went up in a glass elevator with a young German guide.   This gave us a great view over the city and across to the snow-covered peak of Mount Baker in Washington State.  Then it was back to the hotel where we rested.  A very good tour - good value and entertaining.   David was stuffed
after all this so he had a sleep.  I phoned and left a message for Tracy and then she phoned back.    We had dinner in our room - the goodies we had bought at Granville Island Markets - YUM!   As we drove around, we noticed that the streets of Vancouver were pretty grotty, with a lot of rubbish around.   This was due to a strike by rubbish collectors.  Not at all pleasant, although it didn't really affect us at all. Information - Teachers are paid $40,000 to $60,00 in high schools but I couldn't find out about primary schools.   Nurses are paid $45,000 and they are very short of nurses.   If you had the qualifications you could walk into a job anywhere.

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Wednesday 18th October

We had an early morning call at 8.00 a.m. (early?!) and were picked up by Grayline at 8.45.  Just before we left the hotel there were a few spots of rain, so I bought a Canadian umbrella and that must have been a deterrent for rain, because we hardly saw any on the rest of our trip, including that day.   Our driver was French.   He was okay but much older than the one the day before and not so laid back.   He tried to be funny but our driver the day before was funny.    We drove quite a long way through suburbs to Tsawwassa to board the ferry.  As it pulled out, the ferry started off in seas of USA, but quickly turned into Canadian waters.   We had brunch/lunch on the ferry. The ferry was extremely comfortable and the cafeteria served a good assortment of food.  It was very pretty, passing islands of all sizes.  We passed several other ferries doing crossings to different islands.   The weather was fine with the sun trying to come out - very relaxing.  When we reached Vancouver Island we drove through an Indian reservation - it surprised us when the driver said that there's full employment in that area.   We drove on to Butchart Gradens, which would have to be the most beautiful gardens we've ever seen.  What a magnificent place!   The autumn leaves were wonderful - such a variety of colours.   We first walked down into the sunken garden and wandered through the area, then on through the different gardens there.  It really was beautiful.   The colours in the trees were unbelievable.  Then it was time to visit the gift shop (of course!) and then we boarded the bus for our trip on to Victoria.   On the way we drove through a magnificent area with HUGE homes.   We were dropped off at the Empress Hotel and it had been my plan to suggest that we have afternoon tea there, but we couldn't even afford that, let alone stay there.  Afternoon tea was $35 Canadian each.   We decided we didn't need it, so we walked around the lovely streets of Victoria with its beautiful buildings.  We wished we had stayed out there for one night after all, as we'd originally planned, but next time (?!)  Grabbed a coffee and cookies in Grabbajabba.  Much less than $35.  The weather was lovely.   There were beautiful old buildings all around a lovely harbour.    A great place.   At our allotted time we were picked up and taken back to the ferry on a lovely evening with a beautiful apricot sky.   We had dinner in the cafeteria of the ferry once again and then 'vegged out' to watch other ferries pass us in the dark.  It was then back through the suburbs to Vancouver.  On the return journey the lights of Vancouver were very pretty.   We arrived back at 9.30 p.m. - a really full day, but a good one.

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Thursday 19th October

Off to a good start with breakfast in the coffee shop.   We were once again picked up by West Coast Sightseeing, this time with a native guide - the only native guide in Vancouver apparently.  We found out you are not supposed to call the native Americans Indians any more.   He was very interesting.  He did a pick up around the city and then took across Lions Gate Bridge.  This is slowly being repaired/restored, bit by bit at night and it was a bit scary crossing it after what our guide on the Tuesday had told us about it.   Nevertheless, we made it across.   We toured through British Properties - magnificent homes, absolutely huge and worth millions.   Then we visited the Capilano Fish Hatchery, which was very interesting.   With damming that has gone on, the salmon were having trouble getting up the rivers to spawn so they are helping them out with fish nets.   Then to Cleveland Dam which holds 1/3 of Vancouver's drinking water.    UP we went to Grouse Mountain.   We had been watching this mountain from our hotel window ever since we arrived and hoped it would be clear when we visited - and it was.  It is 3,700 ft to the chalet.  We went up in gondolas holding quite a few people.    At the top we had delicious soup for lunch then walked around admiring carved wooden statues of animals and humans.  They were magnificent.  We decided that we had time to watch "Born to Fly", which was made by the chap who carved the statues.  This was in the Theatre in the Sky.   The film was very well done and took us on a ride with an eagle around the local mountains and seashores.  Fantastic - well we thought so, but an American woman asked what was the point of it?!   Coming down in the Skyride I was chatting to a couple from W.A. and told them we were from S.A. and had a daughter on exchange with the airforce, when a woman in front turned around and said, "You're Tracy's parents aren't you?"   It was Meredith Frearson who did medicine with Tracy.   The last time I saw her was in England when both she and Tracy were working over there.   Talk about coincidence - "It's a Small World"!     We then travelled on to Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is unbelievable.   It is so long - and so wobbly.    There were heaps and heaps of Japanese school children on it and boy did they make it move!    Our guide then dropped us off at the Seabus, which we took across Vancouver Harbour, where he met us and drove us back to the hotel.    We phoned Yas and Tracy, had dinner in the coffee shop and then bed.  These tours are very long, but jam packed with interesting places to visit and very good value.

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Friday 20th October

I was up early - 6.00.   This was our day to explore the city before leaving for 'greener pastures'.  We set out and walked to Robson Street where we had a delicious meal of breakfast bagels at a Bagel Street Café.   We were going to eat at McDonalds but a lass we were chatting to told us about the café so we thought we'd try it out.   The bagels were delicious.  After this we walked up Robson Street, which is the main shopping area and through a big Shopping Centre.  We bought David a hat and gloves as well as gloves for me, as we thought there could be some cold weather ahead of us!   Oh, we were so tired.  Our legs were aching.  We'd been on the go ever since we left home and it takes a while for the old body to settle down after that long flight from Aus.  We had cappuccinos then walked along Robson Street to a Supermarket/Drug Store, where we bought some crackers and bits and pieces for 'lunch' back in our hotel room.    It was then time to bomb out for a while before I did the washing, phoned Nick and then went for a walk on my own.  I needed to blow out some cobwebs so I went back to Robson Street to get a few things.   We dined on Sockeye Salmon in our room as entrée and then pasta.   Our room was really good, with a microwave, sink etc.  Very comfy.  Watched the movie "Hoosiers" with Gene Hackman.  It was excellent.
We'd had five good days so far!

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