I wrote most parts of this post while just arriving in Seattle. Somehow took a while to finally publish it.
I just traveled back to the USA and I am sitting in the Columbia City bakery having a very nice apple-blueberry mini fruit-pie. This very hipstery, but still cozy little bakery close to my current Airbnb place inspired me to start writing early.
This morning I left Vancouver after 3 days and this is a short travel description.
Last Friday (11.12.2015) I flew from LAX to Vancouver and after a short 3.5h of flight, I touched down in Vancouver. While still stepping through the gangway from the plane to the arrival terminal, I knew I was up north. It was cold. Luckily, I brought a jacket and a couple (literally 2) sweaters. All I currently own.
The moment I short doubted myself was, when I stood in front of the immigration officer. The immigration to the USA a couple of days earlier went very smooth and very fast. Here, I had to answer many questions about my travel plans, why I old stay of 3 days, and that this isn’t enough to see ALL of Vancouver. Also my occupation, I answered scientist, and current residential status in Singapore was of interest. I don’t mind to be ask these questions, the US border protection officer did almost the same, but as always the tone makes the music. In short, he wasn’t very nice.
The free wifi and generally nice people after the border checks, enforced my rather good mental image of Canadians I had and still have.
I booked the room a couple weeks before and was amazed by the location and the price. I was a little in doubt, but it turned out to be one of the best Airbnb experiences I ever had. It was in the 27th. floor of a high rise apartment building in downtown Vancouver. Great view over the city as well as the stadiums was included. As was everything in the fridge.
I have an reoccurring theme when traveling alone. I’ll just start walking around and turn when I like what I am seeing, until I don’t want anymore. Here I had a general direction that I wanted to see the Gastown Steam Clock. It was located around 15 minutes walk from the apartment. I ended up walking around the Gastown area for around 2 hours.
On the east side of the Gastown area, the east Hastings area started, and how some people told me later, the worst part of downtown. Beggars everywhere and a lot of weed dispensaries and the omnipresent smell of burning joints. I didn’t necessarily feel unsafe but just a little annoyed.
The steam clock itself is very fascinating, because it’s powered by steam and the internals of the clock are visible. On the hour, every hour the excess steam is being released through pipes on the roof of the clock. Please see the video on the side.
On my walking around the Gastown area, the bars and restaurants were packed with people having a Christmas party. Very questionable sweaters and hats cannot be unseen anymore.
On walking back to the apartment, I passed by the Vancouver Christmas market. I kept a visit an option for another day. When coming back the next day, the fact that I should have payed $8 entrance into the market, kept me from entering.
The next day was a lost day. It rained the entire day. I took my umbrella and walked around a different part of the city, but the wind and rain forced me to make many stops along the way, and after 3 hours I just gave up and went home to work a little. Christmas was/is coming up and the cards don’t write themselves.
The forecast for Sunday, was a little better. Even though it started with rain as well, the afternoon was clear and even sunny. My plan was to rent a bike and cycle around the Vancouver Seawall. This 22km paved cycle and walkway partially passes through the city greenery of Vancouver, the Stanly Park.
I went to the first renal store that I could find, and the two German lady’s quickly hooked me up with a sporty bike and a helmet. The tour around the park takes around an hour and that was totally right, if I didn’t have to wait 25 minutes at a closed gate. Apparently parts of the way are closed when there are storms and at night, and weren’t opened yet. Along the way there a some nice scenic views over the bay and the open sea. The very low-hanging clouds and the steep hills vanishing in them, make it seem like Norwegian Fjords.
After returning the bike, I walked back along the bay. Passing by the seaplane port, where I watched a couple of planes land, but non taking off. Stopping at a micro brewery on my way back, made me lose a little track of time, since I wanted to visit the steam clock with daylight.
Food of Vancouver
Vancouver is a very North American city - burgers and steaks everywhere. Since it is on the western seaboard, the Asian influences are visible on the streets as well as in the cousins. I had sushi a couple of times, as well as some tacos. But mostly I enjoyed the Döners, or how they call it Donairs. A little different to the ones I know from Europe. They are more a pocket of very thin flat bread filled with all the vegetables and meats, that is grilled after being filled, instead of before.
The once thing, I had to try when it comes to @Sparklingpearl, was Tim Hortons. This is a Canadian coffee and pastry chain found almost everywhere. They have something called the Tim Bits. Small balls of deep fried donut dough filled or unfilled. They are basically the inverse of a donut. Many non-canadians might know Tim Hortons from the episode Dual Citizenship of the long running TV series How I met your mother.