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Posted by on Jun 27, 2009 in North America, TripJournals |

Pride Travel’s Rocky Mountain Rail Journey Through Canada – Day 2: Vancouver at Leisure

Day 2 – Vancouver at Leisure

We had a full day today, totally unplanned of course. An early (for us) wakeup call was a good start to the day for handling online chores, and the modern conveniences we cannot seem to part with even while on vacation. By 10 we were ready for a bite, and wanted to go out and hit the town.

As part of our rail journey, Rocky Mountaineer Vacations provides an attractions pass booklet which, for Vancouver, included a hop on hop off bus tour service. Not normally our cup of tea, we decided to try something different and ‘hop on’ at the second stop on the tour across the way at Canada Place. These tours are not for everyone, although we must admit actually liking the idea after trying it first-hand as it is a good way to see more (not necessarily do more) of a city than one normally could in a day. We hopped off only two small stops later, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. After a few moments of the obligatory photography Nathan would not let us proceed without, we decided to meander up and down Robson for what was becoming Brunch. Heading east from Robson and Howe St according to Nathan’s “very sure” instinct as to where a particular Shanghai Noodle shop was, we met what is either the end or beginning of the Robson Street shopping district depending on one’s view. As is the case with half of this booming metropolis, the sidewalks were under construction.

A brief stop at a Sears store soon uncovered what Nathan (our retail and shopping expert) soon termed the “best Sears” he’d seen in years. About face the other direction, we meandered down Robson window shopping and looking for a lunch spot. We soon recognized a Sushi restaurant we enjoyed dining at last year, and headed in to partake of the sushi boat’s bounty… Remember? We had sushi on the brain from last night’s plans. That’s the beauty of being on vacation: the ability to do what you want when you want, and adjust the ‘flow’ of the trip accordingly. Up and down Robson again had us stopping and shopping at Aldo for Nathan’s weird shoes {–Espadrilles, and yes, he had to spell that twice} Go figure. We also ran across a sale at the H2O store, a boutique body & face stuff store. Nathan was attracted by the products, and I, well, 75% off always gets my skin tingling. Our purchases in hand, food in the belly, we continued our jaunt through Robson’s many shops. Interspersed amongst the down-to-earth stores were also luxury retailers such as Gucci, Ferragamo, Hermes, etc. I tried my best to steer Nathan away from any more shopping.

We retraced our steps back to the bus stop to board and continue our journey. Our bus drove us into Stanley Park, with various stops in and around this amazing park. Many times the size of Central Park in New York, this enclave of nature remains over 2/3 completely untouched. Here, you can stroll along the shores around the Vancouver peninsula, walk through the rose gardens, and many hiking trails and paths. We left the bus at Prospect Point, one of the highest points in the city with a history of military significance. Our motives, though were not about sightseeing: Prospect Point’s cafe has one of the most renowned ice cream stores: the made-on-site ice cream has a secret recipe with over 20% more butterfat than average. Yum. We purchased ice cream, and of course, a beverage for the thirst that will come afterwards. In walking around the point and taking pictures, we ran into a curious sight: Raccoon! This one, quite bold and forward. It gently came out of the trees, walked over and started to paw at the backpack of a tourist. Startled, the girl ran off with her boyfriend joining on her tail. The raccoon attempted to gingerly follow for a bit, but was more interested in the gaggle of Asians in a tour group approaching, all bearing ice cream. Remember the adage about not feeding the wildlife? Well, apparently that doesn’t translate very well as a few of the tourists proceeded to feed the poor thing junk food. Mr Raccoon, for his part was happy to oblige, standing on its hind legs, putting out its paw gingerly. Nathan was able to capture a few photos of this intelligent friendly critter for our readers’ amusement.

Our adventures completed in Stanley Park, we reboarded the bus for a drive on the western side of the bay and towards False Creek. Our ride took us past English Bay and the start of Davie St, with its long expansive beach so popular with locals and tourists, along the Seawall Promenade, and past beautiful Sunset Beach Park. Crossing the Burrard Bridge, we meandered around the Granville Island area, passing Granville Island and the nearby Molson Brewery. Our next segment of the tour drove along 6th and second Ave, then via Quebec street. Along the way, we saw the radical changes undergoing a very old warehouse district which was in much need of gentrification: Vancouver has designated the area as Olympic Village, with spectacular housing and retail areas being built for the 2010 Olympics. Once the event passes, the housing will be sold to individuals and is expected to command very good resale value and a return for the city, since the area redeveloped sits on False Creek with views of Vancouver’s majestic downtown skyline.

The bus’ next stop was Chinatown, where we snapped a few snazzy photos from our seats aboard. By now, shopping in hand, we were limited to how many more stops we could make and opted to finish the circle tour for the sights. Although Gastown was ‘closed’ due to the jazzfest that had throngs of people in the streets, we would highly recommend any visitor to Vancouver to make a stop at this lovely quaint old section of town, preferably at night. We decided to come back this evening, if time allowed. Instead, we capped off the evening early, with a leisurely stay in the hotel, hot baths, and (for Nathan) a blue mud mask treatment that felt like Botox concentrate. Best we save our strength and rest… our wakeup call for tomorrow’s morning transfer to the Whistler Mountaineer train is at 5:30am.

Make sure to look at the itinerary map and photos posted to see our journey’s route by visiting our facebook page by clicking the button at the bottom of our homepage at or directly by using this URL :




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