Leaving Oakland, June 20, 2017
Leaving Oakland. Very smoggy due to the heat we have been "enjoying" the past few days. Hoping for nice views of the Cascades further up the line.
These are spectacular mountains, and the following pictures do not do them justice. Having grown up with views of Shasta and Lassen from my bedroom, part of me breathes a sigh of recognition and memory whenever I see one of these beauties.
Tuesday, June 20
Arrived in Vancouver, and I have to say I have never seen such an overwhelming crush of humanity queueing to go through Customs. However, as overwhelming as it seemed, the lines moved quickly, and with 15-20 mintues Jeanne and I met up right outside the exit. Then in a cab to our hotel - Hotel BLU on Robson - a real find! Thank you, Chantal de Lescure Grillot for the recommendation!
Off we went to find lunch, and at the recommendation of out hotel concierge, we ended up at Black+Blue for a delightful and delicious lunch.
We managed to find room for dinner! What a surprise. However, although it was a lovely evening, Jeanne suddenly faded, and we went back to the hotel instead of going on the planned walk. Understandable as she is from New York, and it was 11 pm according to her internal clock! Tomorrow is the Hop On, HopOff Trolley!!!
Wednesday, June 21
Waiting for me to get dressed. Patience is not Frances' strong suit!
Oh. My. Goodness. Pros: it was lovely to meander through Stanley Park on the Trolley. Cons? Let me count the ways. First, the guide/driver insisted on blaring the sound from his mike, which eventually resulted in a headache for me. Also, he was full of irrelevant (uninteresting) comments. And finally, he was just generally irritating. In his defense, he did try hard. However, the highlight of the trip was when he took out the side mirror of a parked car and blithely continued on his way, much to the amusement of the passengers. Highlights from the morning:
The afternoon brought some free time, and after a bit of a rest, we went off to the Vancouver Lookout, a terrific view of the city and surrounding area from a really high, circular vista room downtown. Views were indeed spectacular!
Then after a cocktail next to the quay at Canada Place, watching a cruise ship get underway, some random pics on the way back to the hotel.
Thursday, June 22 Granite Falls Zodiac Tour!
This was truly the highlight of our trip so far. The views were spectacularly, jaw dropping-ly gorgeous, and the boat ride (all 3 hours of it!) was more fun than I have had in a long, long time. Our guide, Faith, was adorable AND an incredible skipper. She really gave the trip the edge with her commentary and humor. We are still raving to each other about all that we saw.
We decided to go back to the place where we had best meal we had here, to Black + Blue, for a farewell drink, and we got so much more than we bargained for. First if all, the Manager, Joel, recognized us ( probably due to my groovy moves to the background music when we were there for lunch!), and promptly seated us in a great spot. Then our waitress came by and was incredibly attentive. We managed to say hello to a couple of the waitresses we had chatted with when we were there a couple of days ago, and we were so complimentary that the General Manager paid us a visit and chatted for about 15 minutes! This is a restaurant that gets it right, and we were not shy about saying so! (This, of course, got us a free glass of wine!) 😋
As we made our way back to the Hotel BLU! We both said , "Vancouver. I could come back here!"
The ferry situation is just plain strange. First, you take a bus from Pacific Station in Vancouver, to the southern most tip where you, bus and all, board the ferry for the almost 2 hour ferry ride. Lovely scenery along the way, though.
Then, 10 minutes before you land, the announcement comes over the loudspeaker for everyone to return to their buses/cars/bicycles/trucks/motorcycles in preparation for docking.
THEN once docked, you proceed to a 40 minute bus ride (with many local stops) to downtown Victoria. There oughta be an easier way!
Our hotel, The Rialto, is a little far from the harbor, but we quickly discovered that it was not a bad walk to the Empress where we had "high tea".
I gotta say, "MEH."
Impression? It was noisy, commercial and a general disappointment (to say nothing of outrageously expensive!), but every one of our friends raved about it. Sorry to disappoint, but I could have done without.
That said, we ate (or at least sampled) everything put in front of us!
Saturday, June 24 - Butchart Gardens
We found them to be as lovely as everyone said they were. Really spectacular in every sense of the word. We had a great lunch in the Dining Room, relaxing in the cool shade of the outdoors. It was really pretty hot, close to 80 I think. Happy to get back to air conditioning!
Tomorrow it is...
This was as cool as we thought it was going to be! 7 Zipline and about 2 hours in the treetops. Simply gorgeous. Our guides were great (and very young and adorable), and we didn't even mind the 7 other people who came along for the ride!
Back to the hotel to clean up and enjoy one last dinner. This has been (yet another) great trip, and I have loved being in the Pacific Northwest again. I had forgotten how soul soothing the tree line and the blue sky can be.
And so we say farewell. Flying home tonight after our ferry ride back to Vancouver.
'Bye Canada. Wish you WERE my home and native land!