Date : 11 June 2013
Biking now over for the trip. Plan for today is a wander around Vancouver. Will probably rent a bicycle each and cycle around. Lots of different forms of transport on this trip: planes, trains, taxis, limousines, motorcycles, ferries, buses, and now bicycles. It has been fun.
Down at breakfast for 7:30. Waitress said table for two? and started to escort us to the back of the almost empty restaurant. Erm, no. We'd prefer a window seat overlooking English Bay please. There were no other diners in the window so thought it strange. she would want to put us at the back. That was the second thing that grated. The first being called 'guys'. I hate being called 'guys' with an absolute passion. Sir and Madam I am more than happy with. But my disappointments didn't end there. Next mistake was again not listening to the customer. I asked for white toast. And I asked for white toast again when she asked me for a second time. And another mistake was the salmon on the eggs Benedict rather than the bacon I'd asked for. And yet another mistake was no milk for tea. And final mistake pre-buttered toast. Sigh. And the Sylvia is supposed to be a decent hotel.
Then, after breakfast, the painters and decorators were back and we could smell cigarette smoke in our bathroom. Really and truly did not like the Sylvia.
We got ourselves together and headed out to meet the early sightseeing bus across the road from the hotel. We waited until gone 09:00 well after the due time and then Wifey called them. They don't do the early buss from English Bay any more. We were apparently looking at last year's brochure - picked up in the Sylvia. Brochure straight in the bin. Next bus would be in an hour. Sigh. Not having a happy morning. And lots of vagrants on the park benches by the bus stop starting to awake.
But the unhappy day was about to change.
Wifey decided that rather than wait for the bus we should rent a couple of bikes and go sightseeing by ourselves. Remember this, Wifey suggested we rent a couple of bikes. We headed up Davie Street for a block and a half to English Bay Bike Rentals. Place is run by a lovely older couple. Had a nice chat about where we'd been and what we'd done in Canada and they told us of their touring through Britain and Ireland. They seemed particularly smitten by Betws y Coed. I always like passing through Betws y Coed as a child.
Wifey hired a sit up and beg with a basket on the front and I hired a Giant hybrid. Initially they told us that a trip around Stanley Park would only take an hour. Another quote to remember for later. Helmets appear compulsory but I always prefer riding a push iron sans dome. The weather easn't looking particularly promising as we walked the bikes back to the cycle path in English Bay. I had a woolly pully and my waterproof jacket on.
The couple at the bike rental had given us directions so that we could cycle around the park. It is a one-way, anti-clockwise route once you reach the old fire engine. The route around the park is a lot longer than we were expecting and we did initially take a wrong turn which started to take us towards Canada Place. We worked out our mistake rather quickly and returned to the Yacht club (that has a Rugby Club).
Our first stop in the park was at the Totem Poles. Before my trip here this was the iconic symbol of Vancouver. They are really very attractive but a bit of a tourist (who us?) with lots of tour buses pulling up and disgorging. We did manage to get one or two photos that weren't bombed by the crowds. The souvenir shop was a little pricey so all we ended up with was a fridge magnet and a couple of cold drinks.
We had a couple of stops before the 9 o'clock gun to allow Wifey to regain her breath. Some good shots over the bay to Vancouver's Downtown Vancouver with float planes landing beyond Deadman's Island. Despite the stops we were the slowest cyclist by far with everyone overtaking us.
At Lion's Bay Bridge the cycle trail got really narrow and winding and you can see why it is a single lane path, and yet people were still trying to overtake. I was taken by the play area for disabled kids with big water features and a walk-in, or should I say, a push through dryer where a person in a wheelchair could be blown dry. Very impressive. Also impressive is the number of park rangers everywhere on foot and on bike.
We stopped at a little cafe booth close to the more upmarket Treehouse restaurant. We had a quick tea and coffee with hot dog and crisps. Rather surprised that despite the number of people out we were the only ones at this cafe. Thinking about it though everywhere is much quieter today than yesterday. But then yesterday the weather was much, much warmer.
We then, jointly mind, decided to continue the cycle to Granville Island. Back along English Bay and a couple of steep ascents. Wifey ended up pushing her bike up the rises and over the Burrard Bridge. It is a tall bridge when all said and done. Then through some traffic (luckily over the bridge there are cycle paths) and round the houses a bit to get to Granville Island.
It is very yachty and arty but the market was good. Bought a sausage roll and a pastie with a cinnamon and toffee swirl from a girl who seemed to really struggle with our order. Wifey had to repeat herself many times before she provided us with what we wanted. On a side note I have noticed a lot less usage of the Eastern Canadian accent traits of 'oo' and 'eh' in Vancouver and British Columbia.
As it had started to clear up we sat outside to eat our lunch. Lots of Chinese tourists around us being 'entertained' by one of the most awful buskers I think I've ever heard. He was English and had absolutely no charisma. His banter was truly tripe. All his songs were either Bonzo Dog Doodah Band or Monty Python but his rapport with the crowd was dire. He was pleading for money. Not sure whether the Chinese got the fact that he was effectively begging them for money, but he certainly didn't do enough to get me to part with mine.
We went round another couple of art boutique halls and then headed back to the bikes. We contemplated taking a ferry back across False Creek but it didn't appear to take bikes so we decided to cycle back over the Burrard Bridge again. Wifey by now was starting to struggle with the bike. She rally has no quads and does end up in agony after a while on a bike. I cycled very slowly behind her as she walked her bike up the bridge. Then we wiggled along the cycle routes through the traffic and back to the English Bay cycle path.
I was expecting us to stop here but 'crazy-legs' Wifey suggested that we followed the cycle paths all the way to the RCMP shop situated in Canada Place. I was surprised. That's another hour on the bike there and back, at the very least. We really did travel very slowly to Canada Place and finally got there at 14:00. Again everyone on a bicycle was overtaking us. Sign on the door of the RCMP shop said closed, re-opening at 14:15. So we sat and waited on the doorstep. Eventually the opened up and Wifey bought a Mountie mug and some t-shirts for the kids.
Wifey then said she wanted to get the bikes back before 15:00. If we had them longer than 6 hours they would class it as a full day rental. That would mean us having to get a bit of a leg on then. We actually started to overtake other cyclists for the first time. Wifey it has to be recognised really did get a good wiggle on and we did make it back just before 15:00. I though that the rental was pretty good value at $53 for 2 bikes, helmets, lock for 6 hours and a bottle of Gatorade.
We stopped at the Timmies next door for a tea and coffee to take back to the hotel and Wifey was really starting to complain about her non-existent quads being agony. Give her her due, she is not a cyclist and we had ridden about 18 miles in the last 6 hours. Pretty good for her. Hot bath then to sooth the aches.
We decided to make use of the complimentary trolley bus pass that came with the package and headed back towards Gastown for some final souvenir hunting and dinner. The trolley bus driver refused to take our tickets as it was so late in the day and we wouldn't get a full loop in before the service stopped for the day. Pretty decent of him I thought. He also offered to give us a lift back to the Sylvia once the tour finished at Canada Place. I thanked him but said that we were going to dinner in Gastown and would be walking back. He then told us the correct bus numbers to get get us back to the Sylvia should we decide not to walk. Thoroughly decent bloke.
Got off the bus at Canada Place and strolled back to Gastown. Beggars out in force again. WIfey, having been constrained with the space on the bike really went at souvenir hunting with a vengeance. Lots of pressies for everyone at home. In one shop there was a troop of rather annoying sprouts and one girl was an absolute spitting image for a teenage Wifey. Scary.
After wandering up down and through every single shop that Gastown had to offer, including another Western Wear shop which again did not have any Fat Babies, we ended up outside the Sitar. Well it would be very rude and un-British not to have a curry, wouldn't it? Another very good curry eaten. Their rice pudding was a a perfect copy of my Gran's 'Burma Road' excpet chilled. Magnificent. Waitress remembered us from last week and asked whether we were local. I said that fortunately we weren't.
Wifey wanted to walk back to the hotel but by now her quads were truly in agony and she had to stop halfway along Water Street still in Gastown. I hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel. Gastown is a poseurs paradise. Lots of very expensive cars and bikes just keep goiong round and round. Can't think what the attraction is. Find an open road, let's face it, BC is full of them, and use your machinery.
Wifey went for a second hot bath. I expect to be awoken during the night with her screaming at me : "you did this to me!", completely forgetting that it was her idea.
We haven't started packing yet and I don't think that we'll be seeing orr doing much in the morning. Not sure that we'll have breakfast in the hotel tomorrow either.
There has been drumming over in the park alongside English Bay for the last couple of hours while I've been writing this up. It's just finished and Wifey is fast asleep. She tell me that if she ever suggests going on a bike again to shoot her. I just love riding on two wheels, either with or without an engine.
Holiday is very nearly over and I am very tired myself. Why don't I do relaxing holidays?