Friday, 23 July 2010
Vancouver day 5
We catch the bus to Stanley Park and do part of the Sea Wall walk. The Totems are massive. Vancouver is full of native Indian art, totem poles and shops sell lots of Native Indian jewellery and trinkets. The Raven is a symbol which appears in a lot of art work (it symbolises creativity). There are also a lot of real live Ravens flying around the city. (On reflection, back home when I see crows flying around, these were possibly just very big crows in the city... But the Raven is still an important local symbol!)
We walk about 4k of the Sea Wall and then realise we won’t have time to make it round the whole way so turn back after Jane samples a plastic hot dog and I have some healthy curly fries. Most things in Vancouver are healthy (they have crisps with no transfat) so this lunch doesn’t reflect the norm.
We head back to the waterfront where we are due to catch the Sea Plane harbour tour. We arrive a bit early so head to the Convention Centre for drinks. I get the most amazing hot chocolate ever –it has a really smooth and creamy consistency. The man serving me says to me, “You’re not Scottish are you?” He tells me his name is McTavish and that his great, great, great grandfather caught a boat to Canada from Glasgow. I tell him I live near Glasgow and he seems pleased by this.
Next stop, the Sea Harbour! The departure lounge is like a mini airport. There are small check in desks for Victoria and the Gulf Islands. We head to the Tour desk and are presented with blue boarding passes. We don’t have to wait long before our flight is called. We walk down a shaky gangway and a group of us load into a tiny plane. From the outside it doesn’t look like it could hold more than 2 people but about 10 of us manage to fit in. As me and Jane are the last to get on the pilot says one of us can ride up front with him in the co pilot seat. I tell Jane to go.
The take off is exhilarating. It feels amazing to zoom along the water; it makes me feel alive and happy. The plane rises up and up, the harbour distorting as we dip to the side slightly. The plane rises up to level with the mountains, the temperature in the cabin cooling as we fly higher. I can see the snow and trees on the mountains really clearly. The town below looks like a plastic model with toy cars circling spaghetti roads. Blue swimming pools stand out against a distinctly grey and fawn landscape. A little remote island catches my eye; it has a lighthouse and looks like it would be a great place to visit. The windows of the plane have what the pilot calls a ‘bubble’ effect. When you stick your head really close to the glass it feels like you are actually sticking your head out the window, they allow you to see really clearly to the sides and below.
On the way back as we approach downtown there are rows and rows of glass buildings, with Stanley Park providing a burst of greenery to one side of the city. The city looks vast and small all in one. The flight lasts 45 minutes but feels like it passed in 5 minutes. As we touchdown on water I wish we could go back up again.
As we walk back through downtown it strikes me again that there is a distinct lack of ‘buzz’ for such a big city. It’s all very understated which I suppose is a reflection of the understated Vancouverite manner.
Back at Jane’s her flatmate tells me a bit about her ESOL teaching. Some of her classes are at a school which has lots of rich Asian kids attending. She says there’s an emerging trend of Saudi Arabians coming over and that Saudi Arabian men don’t tend to obey any class rules. If their phone goes, then they answer it. She says there are more Saudi Arabian women coming over. Maybe to escape the disrespectful men?