Friday, 23 July 2010

Vancouver day 9

Today I take a Trolley Bus tour of the city. I want to see Granville Island and decide this is the most hassle free and fun way to incorporate that in to my sightseeing. I get on the ‘Red Loop’ bus at Canada Place and we head further round Stanley Park, to the bits I never had time to walk to. The bus goes right to the top, Prospect Point, and we pass Vancouver’s oldest tree which to me looks like a bit of burnout wood. Our driver tells us that the people of Vancouver campaigned to save it and I’m sure he says the city have spent half a million dollars on it. They must really love nature here!

A woman on the bus keeps her window open and is completely oblivious to the fact that we’re all freezing (men with hoods up, women with scarves tightly wound). She gets off at the same stop as me for Granville Island so I follow her down to the False Creek Ferry stop. The Ferry is round and small and it is a 2 minute crossing to the island. Once on land I have a browse round the outdoor markets and stop in at some interesting craft shops. I find a small shop called Crystal Ark beside the pond and it has some of the largest Amethyst rocks and Rose Quartz spheres I have ever seen. It also has lots of beautiful crystal jewellery.

I go into Sammy J Peppers Grill and Bar for lunch and have really tasty chicken and mushroom tagliatelli with a kick of spice in the creamy sauce. It adds a nice bit of warmth to what is one of the coldest mornings of the trip. It’s hard to believe I left 28 degree heat in Scotland last week!

After lunch I have a wander round some more shops. I see a shop assistant demonstrate a hammock style product which is hanging from the ceiling and she gets a young customer to try it out by sitting on it and swinging back and forth. Outside a man and woman are dressed in strange outfits and are standing motionless on boxes with ‘Puppets’ written on the side. Someone throws some coins in to their tray and they immediately come to life; the woman singing and playing her guitar, the man singing and banging on his drums.

I wander through more of the Island and from my map I see the Blue Loop bus pickup point is just outside the main entrance, beside a small Starbucks. I stand there for a while then begin to wonder if this is the right place. I see two women holding maps like mine so ask them if they’re waiting for the trolley bus. They tell me that the stop is a bit further up the hill and they come and join me once they have picked up some coffee. They’re from Montreal and the mother only speaks a little English. The daughter asks where I’m from and tells me they thought I was Australian. They say Canadians often get the two accents mixed up. I find this strange. I’m sure Australians would find it strange too.

The ‘blue loop’ trolley bus soon arrives and we head back round the other parts of downtown. It takes us through Yaletown which the bus driver describes as a hip and expensive part of town, where a lot of the young business crowd hang out (and where Robert Pattinson and the Twilight gang hung out when filming, that’s my own knowledge, not the bus driver’s). I imagine it to be similar to the Merchant City area of Glasgow. We pass the library which looks like an amazing building, pass some weird Chinese men sculptures, go through China Town, go past an Amsterdam cafe on Hastings which has hash symbols on the sign, and pass through the lovely East Hastings. The bus driver reckons that East Hastings is on the up and will become the new Yaletown. Where the druggies and homeless would camp out, if this were to happen, who knows.

The sun comes out for my last night in Vancouver so me and Jane head out for dinner. As we walk downstairs, we are hit with the stench of Skunk. It’s emitting from her neighbour, Steve’s door. Jane knocks on his door but there is no reply. He’s probably dead with the amount of pot he must be smoking in there.

We head up the Drive to a bar/restaurant called Havana. The outdoor tables are full so our waitress (very androgynous, like Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry) says we can wait in the bar. There is a little art exhibition through the back which has paintings of wolves and the like. It’s not long before a table is free and we go outside and enjoy the sunshine. I have some great Chicken Wraps with Salsa and Feta cheese and some amazing hand cooked chips. The chips here are amazing and are so light they don’t even feel unhealthy! Jane gets the waitress to take some photos then we head for a wander down the drive.

I persuade Jane to go into Joe’s cafe for some hot chocolate. The two men who run the cafe speak Portuguese (one from Portugal, the other from Brazil). Jane impresses them by speaking the lingo and I tell her she’s made some new friends now. The cafe looks steeped in history and I’m sure the interesting looking men who frequent it would have some interesting stories to tell. “Hey, there’s Steve!” Jane waves at a man walking past the window. He waves back and comes in to say hello. He looks surprisingly lucid. We exchange brief conversation, though he can’t really understand me and I can’t really understand him. He misinterprets my description of ‘the hippy’ drive as the ‘happy’ drive and he says he would sure rather be Canadian than Scottish. Alright then.

Ah, I will miss Commercial Drive where young men speed down the road on skateboards, wearing multi coloured shorts with their caps round the wrong way and shout “Duuuude.”

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