October 2013 - Honeymoon in Vancouver

Autumn was at its peak outside of the hotel.

(Written by Jeff)
The first day
Sunday, we arrived in Vancouver and noticed while waiting for our bags that we had shared the plane with a hockey team that we weren’t able to identify.  They all had suits on and were pulling off what was clearly hockey equipment.  The taxi from the airport to the hotel was a harrowing trip for us; the guy who was driving was so jerky with the gas pedal and the break, we were both starting to get sick. Fortunately, we both survived the drive without any lasting effects or emergency bathroom trips. When we arrived at the hotel, it was before the time that we could check in, so we stowed our luggage with the concierge and had a quick bite to eat in the hotel restaurant.

After our meal, we enjoyed a leisurely walk along the Seawall. It was a gorgeous day; the temperature was perfect, the sun was shining, and everyone was out enjoying the fresh air with us. According to the waitress and the cab driver, it was warmer than normal. We enjoyed the evening air while dodging people who were running in a marathon.  On our walk back to the hotel, they called to inform us that the room was ready and that we could check in.  We unpacked and settled into our new home for the next six days and relaxed for a couple of minutes.

Our view from our hotel room.

When we decided it was time to eat, it was a little early in the afternoon in Vancouver, but it was about the right time for our stomachs due to the 3 hour time difference. We decided on a place we had passed while walking along the Seawall called Lift. There were many visually impressive things about the bar: the interior lighting was visually stunning with the bar being spectacularly lit up, and the menus were iPads. I ordered the special, a Venison steak, medium. I think my tastes are changing some as I wished I had ordered it medium rare.  We both liked the bread that they brought to the table as it was very sculptural in appearance. One of the two types was a normal run of the mill cut up roll while the second was a flat unleavened crisp bread with seeds stuck to it.  Very expensive, but very good food.

iPad menus at Lift.

Monday started with coffee at the Starbucks located in the hotel. Caitlyn got the Salted Caramel Mocha while I got the White Chocolate Mocha. We strolled along the Seawall and enjoyed our morning coffee on our way to the Vancouver Aquarium, which was a twenty minute walk.  Their main exhibit featured an incredible variety of jellyfish, and it was special to see other species besides the common Moon Jellies. We both enjoyed all the jelly fish in the huge exhibit and saw everything at the aquarium by noon. After we sat and ate lunch, we began our walk back to the hotel.

The Aquarium had a few of these bubbles inside fish tanks for kids (and Jeff) to look through.

Jellyfish at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Jeff behind moon jellies.

It was feeding and cleaning time at the big tank.

The aquarium had a tropical butterfly and bird room.

A beautifully textured frog from the Aquarium's tropical area.

Our day continued with a free bus ride to Capilano Suspension Bridge park, which included our first trip over the Lions Gate Bridge.  The Capilano Suspension Bridge park has three attractions, the first of which is the suspension bridge over the river. The day we visited was overcast and rainy, so even though the sights were awe inspiring, I imagine on a clear and sunny day it would be even more so. The second attraction that we visited in the park were the platforms and bridges that are suspended 30+ feet up in the trees. We were also able to treat ourselves with hot chocolate from a concession hut, which warmed up our chilled hands. While it was very beautiful and it was neat to walk up in the trees, it didn't lend itself to many photos; without any subject to focus on, all that the photos looked like generic forest images. Caitlyn struggled trying to juggle camera equipment with the hot chocolate and an umbrella, multiple times I ended up holding the umbrella over her and the camera while the hot chocolate and I got wet. After a second trip across the suspension bridge, we then visited the Cliff Walk, which was a series of catwalks bolted and suspended from the cliff face. Caitlyn was able to capture a couple good photos along this walk even with the clouds and rain. Finally, we spent some time in the gift shop, where I purchased a hoodie that I found invaluable the rest of the week.

Tourists crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

This is what we could see while on the suspension bridge.

The view looking down from the catwalk.

The catwalk in Capilano Park.

After returning to the hotel room, we planned out our potential meals for the week.  Before we left the room, we decided on a sushi restaurant for the night and we thought we had it mapped out. Because we had a limit on our cell phone plans, we navigated by a paper map the hotel had given us. We arrived at the location of the sushi place, but oddly the name didn’t match up with what our research on the internet had given us. We walked up and down the block to make sure we hadn't missed it, and we decided to eat there anyway as it was the only sushi place on the block. (Ironically, there were no shortages of sushi restaurants nearby as we would find out later.) When we finished eating, we decided that we still had energy and figured we would walk around part of the city. The desk clerk at the hotel had told us the best route to take around the city to see a lot of shops and restaurants. As we walked, we found that one block away from our dinner location was the Sushi place we had intended to patronize, but we had turned the wrong direction earlier. We both ended up buying umbrellas as the rain had no plans to stop; I purchased a functional small black one to use later at work while Caitlyn found a ridiculous pink umbrella with corgis and poodles holding roses in their mouths. One of the neat things that we came across while walking were the rainbow colored crosswalks in the LGBT part of town.

Tuesday our day, again, started with a visit to Starbucks, and with the same flavors of coffee in hand as the previous day, we enjoyed a leisure walk through town, south to the ferry. We waited ten minutes while enjoying the bay and mountains, and we boarded a small 10 passenger boat to Granville Island. Once on the island, we wandered around the farmers-market-style building and found some sweets to chase down the Starbucks. We each had a mini lemon-meringue pie; I hadn't had lemon meringue for a long while, and it brought back good memories from my childhood summers at my grandparent’s house in Blue Eye Missouri. We continued to walk around the island, and while attempting to find a silk shop that Caitlyn wanted to visit, we found a woodworking shop. This was the highlight of the day for me; we talked with the guy working in the shop and had a good time helping him draw out the ergonomics of a footstool he was designing for a beautiful chair that he had just finished. All the while, we were entertained by his shop pal, a sawdust colored terrier mix, who (like Dwight) loved tossing his stuffed toy into the air and running after it. Eventually, we found the silk shop that we were looking for, and Caitlyn was in the first of many fiber stores she had long ago planned on visiting. While I think she was in heaven feeling all the different types of silk, I found myself entertained by the machinery they had in the store: from looms to skein winding devices, and even a device to harvest the silk from the cocoons. After the first of many fiber purchases, we were on our way via taxi to another fiber location.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at SweetGeorgiaYarns. It is currently the headquarters for a well known yarn-dying brand, and we were fortunate to get the nickel tour of the dye studio. Caitlyn was admiring the fiber and the pretty colors while I was admiring the techniques they used for the different processes, followed by another yarn purchase.

On the taxi ride back to the hotel, we decided that we were surprised that we hadn’t seen any crab restaurants (as we were so close to the ocean). When we got back to the hotel, did a fair amount of research to indulge our craving, which was interrupted by a nap.  We settled on a place that served dungeness crab called Coast. It was a very busy place with modern decor, and the crab was wonderful.  We ended up being sat outside, and while it was a chilly night, we were very toasty sitting under the heat lamps.

The Vancouver Lookout

Wednesday, continuing our pattern, our day started with Starbucks and a walk along the Seawall. This time, we set off in the other direction towards our first stop of the day: The Vancouver Lookout, which is a scenic observation deck atop a tall building. The view was pretty awesome and we could see the majority of the city. We continued our walk through the city headed towards a yarn store named Wool is not Enough, but were sidetracked when we spotted some incredible graffiti that was based off of The Simpsons. Once at the yarn store, Caitlyn purchased more yarn and this time it included a skein for me. I plan to make a Canadian toque (hat) out of it. It is spun in Canada and dyed on Vancouver Island.

The view from The Lookout

Hidden graffiti that was a delight to discover.

A short walk from Wool is not Enough, and a couple of local beggars later, we arrived at the Vancouver Police Museum. The museum is directly across the street from the Vancouver police main building, and one block away from the first time we noticed the smell of marijuana. The museum is smaller than we expected, but then, I had never been to a police museum. The most interesting part for me were the mock crime scenes they had set up. They coincided with the audio tour phone app, and were designed to test your skills of observation.

Lynn Canyon Park

After the Police Museum, thanks to Google Maps, we were then able to navigate the Vancouver public bus system, and we arrived an hour later at Lynn Canyon Park. Upon arrival, our first priority was to visit the gift shop, not to buy any trinkets, but to make sure we had change for the bus fare back to the hotel. By this point in the day, we were getting hungry and had hoped that there might be a place to grab a snack at the park. Unfortunately for us, the cafe had closed for the season, but the cashier at the gift shop told us about a place to eat very near one of the start/end of a trail. We were then able to fight off the hunger with a stash of jerky, and we started our trek thru the Canadian wilderness. The cashier undersold the difficulty of the trail that she convinced us of, but mind you, she did warn us that it has a lot of stairs. I still feel she undersold it as we were exhausted by the end of the trail. The good news is that, by the time we got to the cafe, we were thirsty and hungry. The shop was a very nice and  quaint small-town grocery & dime store that had a number of quirky gift items for sale. We sat and enjoyed our food, and after debating if we wanted to head back into the park or head back to the hotel, we decided on the hotel. So with our bellies full of food and our pockets full of change, we rode the hour long bus ride back to the hotel.

Thursday, after our now ritualistic stop at Starbucks, we visited a bank and got 50$ worth of Toonies for bus fare. Our trip that morning took us to a part of town called the Punjabi Market. This market consisted of a stretch of 2 or 3 blocks that were all Indian shops. It also referred to as Little India, and we were both hopeful because neither of us had been to an all Indian part of a town before. We were disappointed as we didn’t feel very welcomed when we wandered into the shops, as well it was essentially the same store over and over again all up and down the street. I had seen Indian clothes in discount stores before, and noticed that it was usually in plastic wrap. I figured that was because it was cheap discount, knock off stuff for tourists, and I was surprised to see in all the stores everything in plastic wrap and I still wonder about it now. We spent about 30 minutes walking up and down the street and ventured into maybe a handful of stores, but did purchase a thing. On the bus ride back, we decided that we would get off in Chinatown. Just the same as the Punjabi market, Chinatown was a bust.

The view from the sea plane.

After another bus ride back to the hotel, we then walked to the sushi place that we had intended on visiting Monday. It was very good and made me wish that we had turned right instead of left the first time. We relaxed and rested for an hour or two until our scheduled time for a floatplane tour of the city and surrounding wilderness. The 30-minute wait in the terminal watching the operations of the busiest water aerodrome in Canada was the highlight of the trip for me. I was glued to the window watching as the planes were serviced, loaded, taxied, took off and landed. The flight was a blast and Caitlyn got awesome pictures. After the tour,  we slowly walked along the Seawall and watched as they last flights of the day landed and took off.

We flew very near the mountains north of Vancouver.

We had decided early on that while we were in Canada we needed to visit Tim Hortons. Before this trip, I honestly had no idea what Tim Hortons sold, and even though they are essentially a Starbucks and a Dunkin Donuts combined, we were able to find some tasty sandwiches that we could eat. The best part of that was the combo deal, that came with a drink and a donut. We each had a donut for dessert!

The day concluded with a leisurely walk along the Seawall back to the hotel. The whole time we were hoping that we could avoid a guy begging for money as we had run into him a couple days in a row while walking in that area.

The clouds managed to part long enough while in the wind turbine for a nice view.

Friday, our last day of the trip, started the same as the previous four, with a stop at Starbucks. With our warm coffee in hand, we walked to the nearest bus stop, this time headed to Grouse Mountain.  Privately owned, Grouse Mountain is a park atop the mountain to the north of the city. Any visit to Grouse Mountain starts with an accent to the top of the mountain, but you can either hike up a trail which is called the Grouse Grind or you can take an aerial tram; we opted for the tram. After paying our admission fee and boarding the tram and waiting for more people to board, I decided to clean my glasses. As I'm cleaning them, the left arm of the glasses comes off in my hand. This is now the second pair of glasses of mine that have broken while being cleaned. By the time we got up the mountain it was after 11AM, and so we enjoyed a lunch in their restaurant.  The table was next to the fireplace, and while we were also next to a window, it was too cloudy to be able to enjoy the view. At this time of the year, the park is in transition from summer to winter activities, so some of the activities had been shut down for maintenance. We were fortunate to get a tour of the wind turbine, which was the main reason why I wanted to visit the park. Sadly, the wind wasn’t blowing so the turbine wasn’t turning. We enjoyed the rest of our evening in the hotel room, and Caitlyn was able to experience her first room service, as we concluded our honeymoon eating dessert in our bed.