Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vancouver - Part One

The plane ride was okay, we had to sit in the middle section so no beautiful views of the Rockies but at least Sarah didn't throw up.
Our hostel is amazing, probably the best room I've stayed in. With only 2 bunk beds per room there's loads of privacy and we definitely got our moneys worth, plus it's right in the gay village.
After checking in we went right over to Little Sister's Bookstore. I have been dying to see this every since I saw the documentary about their struggles against Canadian Customs. The store is huge, but they have a lot of different items, not as many books as Glad Day in Toronto but a lot more cards and merchandise. I spent about $100 and was glad to do so. I got a mug that says 'Little Sister's' on it.

Early to bed as it was at 11 p.m. already 2 a.m. Toronto time but then early to rise, I got up about 6:30 ready to start the day but Sarah needed more convincing, she mumbled something like "Sarah go sleep now" and rolled over.
Once up we caught the ferry to Granville Island to their beautiful farmers market for breakfast. It's smaller than the St. Lawrence market but more high class with beautiful foods and breads. An amazing breakfast and then a short bus to the Museum of Anthropology. Sarah and I both didn't know exactly what that word meant but it sounded good.
Outside they had a cool totem pole:

Inside there was lots of cultural art but it was all a bit highbrow, a bit dry. Too short for the $16 entrance fee. I did like these Portuguese figures of Adam, Eve and the Devil "El Diablo".

From there we walked down a mountain trail:

And over to Wreck Beach - one of the most famous nude beaches in the world and a nice hang-out space for the locals.

There was also this sign that said to avoid "staring" and "gawking". What exactly is the difference between the two?

Sarah got a couple of really nice dresses for cheap.
Now to get back we had to climb back up the mountain trail stairs. I thought I was going to die. There were about 4,000 steps straight up, I kept having to stop for breaks. There was a tombstone about halfway up where I assume the last person trying the stairs didn't make it up. I suggested to Sarah "Bury me here!" but no takers.
After an eternity we got to the top of the stairs and I vowed never to return until they built an escalator.
Nearby was a place on the map called 'Totem Park' so we headed over there only to find that's just a name, there is no totem poles. Back to the hostel for a quick recharge and I went to my play and Sarah to her Salsa cruise.
On the walk home I did partake in a magic show on the street:

And we did stop by Sears and I tried on some high heeled shoes for the first time:

It was quite fun, I want a pair.... but I couldn't seem to be able to find a size 12....
The play was 'Brighton Beach Memories' by Neil Simon who also wrote 'The Odd Couple'. Amazing staging and a pheonominal lead made it a good evening, despite the fact that the entire audience was over 80. I asked one elderly lady at the intermission "What do you think of it?" and she said "Too slow, boring" so I called her an old goat under my breath.
The play was over 2.5 hours, a little too long, and while waiting for the bus back I thought I might be mugged by the roving gangs but all in all a good night.
I'll let Sarah tell you about her cruise:
I took a cab to the boarding dock. There were a lot of people waiting in line to board the boat. The majority of the group were Latinos, but there were some couples and a few bridal parties. The boat was packed, and it was really hard to find a seat at first, especially because I was by myself and everyone else seemed to be in groups. I soon made friends with one of the bridal parties. They were a lovely group of girls, very sweet and friendly. At about 10:30, we had our free salsa lesson. At first we were taught the steps individually, but then we had to find a partner to dance with. A 60 year old man asked if I would like to be his partner, and of course I said yes. Neither of us were very good, but eventually we got the steps down. We even did a dip! Honestly, I was just happy that I didn't step on his toes. Someone was snapping photos of us from behind, I think it may have been his wife. Not too sure why she didn't want to dance with him. The music was great, and there were some pretty impressive dancers on the dance floor. The cruise was about 3 hours in total, I was sad when it finally came to an end. I'm really glad I went...I got to dress up, and had an amazing time!
Here's Sarah getting home from her big night:

Woke up on Sunday and we went to Stanley Park. It took us a few wrong turns getting there but we met a helpful cute boy to walk with and saw a cat on the way. I think I'm the cat whisperer - I see them wherever I go.

We hitched a ride on the trolley and rode around the park. It's 10% bigger than Central Park in NYC. It was a hop on-hop off and our first stop was a scenic lookout with a million dollar view and some sulphur piles in the background.

A bite of lunch and back on the trolley. They kept saying we would see raccoons as there were tons of them in the park but I didn't see a one. Sarah mentioned she was terrified of them as her friend was ravished by one or something so I guess it was for the best.

We did see a blue heron, a mouse, and a sealion popped it's head out of the water to say hello as we were walking past. A wild sealion - that was like the coolest thing ever. The park was also filled with 'racist' squirrels - our crazy drunken guide was telling us they imported grey squirrels from Central Park and now the American grey squirrels always fight with the Canadian black ones. She said they were all racist - I don't think grey squirrels are a race.
Here's us inside a tree:

Another view of the bridge:

Off to the aquarium which was pretty cool. Standing outside were some performers including the best animal balloon artist I've ever seen:

And there were two others, this face paint lady that spent the whole time painting her own face and Scuba Steve who was a clown who stood on his head the whole time with scuba flippers on his feet saying things like "I can't get back up!" and equally hilarious jokes.
We caught a couple shows, the beluga show was amazing, they are the cutest animals:

Following that the river sea-lion show foreshadowing our encounter with the sea-lion later.

Jellyfish are always cool:

This sign could have a couple meanings:

There was also a rain forest area with some parrots:

Sarah in the gift shop:

When we got out Sarah decided to climb a tree:

From there off to the totem poles in the park. Quite spectacular if fewer than I thought there might be.

Back home at the hostel we were really exhausted from walking all day but no time for that! Also, much to Sarah's chagrin, no time for dinner. We had to get to the Vancouver Lookout before sunset to take photos of the city at night and during the daylight times.
We took the bus there as we were still exhausted. I've been looking for running shoes but the only ones I've seen were over $100 and I'm trying not to spend all my money before Labour Day.
Once there we walked around for a couple minutes, took a couple photos:

I ran into the bathroom. As soon as I sit down I hear the fire alarm go off. Assuming this must be some kind of Candid Camera joke, I don't react immediately but after a couple minutes realize we need to evacuate.
This meant going down over 70 flights of stairs, a daunting task at most times but after the steps at Wreck Beach and walking in Stanley Park for 10 hours my calves were killing me, it felt like someone was punching me in the back of the leg with every step - good times!
Sarah and I ended up going down the stairs with the stragglers, 6 old ladies and a woman carrying her toddler. We made it eventually, long after the alarm had stopped. It was the type of building where once you started going down none of the doors would open until the bottom.
We were waiting in line at the bottom and they started letting people back up. Two minutes later the alarm starts going off again and I said "If we had gone up there, would we have to walk down all the stairs AGAIN?" and when she said we would I asked for a refund. Get my scissor 'cause I'll cut a bitch before I go down those stairs again.
Money in hand we walked over to Gas town, featuring a steam powered clock.

There was an amazing souvenir shop there run by this amazing Indian couple so we shopped and talked for about an hour. I thought there would be way more crappy souvenir shops here than there are - or at least that we've found.
A bus back to the hostel and we were all set to go the next morning at 6:30 a.m. to Whistler!

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