Date : 12 June 2013
Well the holiday is almost at an end. Wifey is now packing. Too many highlights to mention and lots of different forms of transport used. Som much more than planes, trains and automobiles.
- Plane : London to Toronto
- Limo : Toronto
- Bus Toronto
- Train : Toronto to Vancouver
- Taxi : Vancouver
- Ferry (foot) : Vancouver
- Motorcycle (RT) : Vancouver to Calgary to Osyoos
- Ferry (car) : Kootenay
- Motorcycle (GS) : Osyoos to Vancouver
- Taxi : Vancouver
- Bicycle : Vancouver
- Bus : Vancouver
- Taxi : Vancouver to airport
- Plane : Vancouver to London
We should have taken a canoe at Lake Louise. We haven't really stopped moving for almost three weeks. Only one more day of travelling then home and work on Friday.
Wifey said that it rained heavily during the night. Only the fourth time we've had rain since arriving in Canada. We had rain in Toronto, Jasper, Banff and Vancouver. Couple of small showers ignored and we never got wet on the bike. We have really been very lucky with the the weather on this trip. Glorious most days. It was cold on a couple of days and especially on the GS.
It has been a great, great holiday in a great, great country. I would move here tomorrow if I could find a job. Some of the service hasn't been as good as I was expecting. Too many waitress getting orders wrong but at least they have hot tea everywhere and HP sauce.
We did take breakfast in the hotel but again the staff were appalling. One waitress barged past me with a tray of food and again the waiter didn't listen to our order and we ended up with the wrong, and buttered, toast. Took an age for the orange juice to turn up. Just as well that I only had porridge and toast.
Finished packing after breakfast and checked out. The security deposit had been$100 and our charges at the bar and for our breakfasts for two days came to $98. Almost spot on. I do have to admit that the staff at checkout were far friendlier than any of the other staff we'd met at the Sylvia. Why now when we are leaving. My impression was set at check in. Took the girl a couple of minutes to work out that we'd already paid for the room. We left 6 bags with them so that we could go and do something before our flight at 17:55 so we still had 5 hours to kill in Vancouver.
It was raining this morning as we waited for the hop-on-hop-off trolley bus. We'd done all the touristy things we wanted to do and so had decided to just take a bus tour round the city and return to the Sylvia to pick up our bags at about 13:30. I don't have that much to say about the tours really. I do not find Vancouver as interesting as Toronto or Chicago and the Vancouver tour bus was no-where near as interesting. The drivers were a little less engaging. Where are the stories about the children's hospital where the doctors prescribe puppies that we had in Toronto or the banter with workmen that we had in Chicago? Still not taken by the city. Maybe the feeling of the city is too close to west cost America and doesn't really feel Canadian.
The Vancouver Trolley Company runs two bus loops: a red one and a blue one. The red loo goes round the western half of Downtown and Stanley Park and the Blue loop through the eastern and southern parts to China Town and Granville Island. We took the Red Bus from English Bay to Canada Place where the routes cross. Whilst waiting for the Blue Bus we found a huge food court under Canada Place but really only had time to grab a tea and coffee from a Starbucks. Not really much to tell on the Blue Loop. We'd already done Granville Island and we now know China Town is big. Killed a few hours though on a miserable day. Only thing that I wished that we'd had time to do in Vancouver was to visit the Capalino Bridge.
We got back to the hotel at 13:30 and retrieved the bags. This time the staff were really helpful with a bell hop actually helping us and advising that there were easier ways in and out of the hotel. He helped carry our bags out to the taxi and got himself a nice tip. Why couldn't they have been as helpful as this when we arrived?
Taxi ride was very slow and the driver rather sweaty but we got there at 14:15 and at a cost of $33. At the airport we were initially pointed by staff to the wrong desk and queued in the wrong queue. After queuing in the wrong queue and getting to the wrong check-in desk we were informed that had been in the wrong queue and were now at the wrong check-in as if it was our fault.
Eventually found the right check-in queue by ourselves which was very short in compensation for already having queued once. So it didn't take long and the bags were quickly checked. However, the queue for security was a joke and incredibly slow with the staff constantly opening and closing queues leading to some significant confusion.
Straight into Duty Free for some final gifts and a couple of bottles of whiskey for me. Most of the Scotches were ludicrously expensive. Another reminder that Duty Free does not mean profit-free. I bought a litre of Canadian Club and a bottle of Auchentoshan Heartwood. Would've been rude not to.
Not that many food outlets in the departures halls so settled on Milestones, seemingly the only place that does food and beer. I had a Granville Pale Ale with my Montreal Stack with eggy bread and cranberry marmalade. Really testy for airport food. Wifey had a turkey club and neither of us was able to finish.
For an international airport it was remarkably quiet and our flight was fairly empty as well. The premium economy section was packed however. The couple in front of us, although in their late 20s/early 30's acted like a couple of 12 year old for the whole flight. The couple next to us had just come back of an Alaskan cruise. Our neighbours across the road did that last year. Not sure I'd want to. Norway maybe on a cruise but to Alaska will be by a bike.
I have to admit the flight went fairly quickly. Watched Jack Reacher, Side Effect and Welcome to the Punch all of which passed the time but not films that I'll buy as each was lacking and had significant holes in the story. Dinner was steak and mash which was passable. I even managed, uncharacteristically for me on a flight to get 2-3 hours sleep.
We were actually 10 minutes early to Heathrow, although air tragic kept us circling so we ended up 20 minutes late. Deplaned at the C gates and so had to struggle through the lifts and the train. I hate Terminal 5's B & C terminals. Coming back off a long flight they fill me with something between depression and fear.
There was absolutely no-one in the immigration hall. Never seen it so empty. Passed comment to the girl on the desk. She said we were lucky, they've been rushed off their feet all morning. Wifey decided to try and use the biometric scanner for the first time. So much for them speeding things up as I ended up waiting for her.
The bags took forever and ours were pretty much the last ones to be taken off. Customs completely empty as usual. Dale was waiting for us and the holiday is over.
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