Mon. Aug. 24, 2015:
Seattle to Vancouver, BC :
I was starting to wake up and I feared another sleepless night. As I was rolling over I found Brent about to wake me up 5 minutes early so we would have time to grab food. I may or may not have screamed. I grabbed a coffee and a packaged muffin from the hotel. There was a really long line-up at the train station. Even though we had bought our tickets, we still had to reserve seats. Thankfully we did not have to clear customs, so the line moved quickly.
We settled into our seats, and no sooner had we gotten comfy, our peace was ruined. There was a woman on the platform yelling “IT’S IN THE FRONT POCKET!!!”… then it was silent… and without missing a beat: “LARRY!!…. IT’S IN THE FRONT POCKET!!!’ This went on for a few more minutes. Our seats were on the crappy side of the train, we did not get a view of the coast. The train featured free wi-fi but there was a pop-up message saying that it blocked video streaming. What is the point of free wi-fi on a train if you cannot watch Netflix?! The only thing it was good for was checking my messages. Marianne had written hoping I had not been sleepless whilst in Seattle, which was just brilliant. Across the aisle we could sort of see out the good windows. We saw small hazy mountains off in the distance, lots of boats on the ocean and a lone seal.
We were heading to Vancouver and thus would no longer need our American money, what little we had left of it anyways. This was the perfect opportunity to spend it on snacks. We had barely eaten breakfast as it was. I was also starting to fall asleep, and it was only 9:30am. I made the mistake of ordering a breakfast bagel for us to split. My suspicions of how wrong I was, were only confirmed when I heard the beeps of the microwave. Trying to cut it in half proved difficult: the bagel was rubbery. The sausage’s presence was only evident by the grease it left everywhere. There was barely any cheese to go with barely any sausage. I ate it as fast as I could, trying hard to ignore the texture, taste and grease. Thankfully I had also gotten a coffee and a Snickers bar to wash away the awful taste. It was a good thing I had that coffee, because my iPod was starting to infuriate me. It would not download any new podcasts. The book I had gotten from the library turned out to be a cookbook, so the only book I had with me on vacation was Pride & Prejudice, which is not easy reading.
British Columbia! We were back in Canada and I had another province on my list (even though I do not keep track of that one). This also meant that there was only one hour left- of a four hour train ride. We could see giant mountains off in the distance and below us on a bridge logs being towed in the river. In my head I started singing “this log is your log, this log is my log” and it made me giggle quietly to myself. I thought the wait at customs would be much longer, partly because of how long it took for the train to get to the station since the message that upon arrival we would have to clear customs. The train had to turn around, and at some point we were past the station. On a map we could see that we were close to the hotel, alas the train had to backtrack. Thankfully we breezed through customs.
My first impressions of Vancouver were that it is a really nice city, from the get-go I was certain it would be near the top of my list of all-time best cities. The only part I did not enjoy was the walk to the hotel. But that was because we were lugging our heavy bags and my calves kept seizing because we had been sitting on a train for four hours. Our first destination of the day was the University of British Columbia to see their Anthropological Museum. It was not within vacation-acceptable walking distance (two hours is too far) so we took the bus. We tried to pay with a $5 bill, but apparently buses in Vancouver only take coins? The driver let us on for free. I was still very tired and I kept falling asleep whilst listening to podcasts.
UBC campus was unfairly beautiful. It had ocean and mountain views, I do not know how anyone actually went to class, as I was mesmerized by the scenery. It made all other university campuses I have been to thus far look terrible. The Museum of Anthropology was awesome, they had a broad range of artifacts from all over the world. I did not expect to see objects from Kiribati. There was an info panel showing where Kiribati was located, so I learned a little bit of geography too. The totem poles throughout were enormous and stunning. The craziest piece of craftsmanship however was the wooden boxes made of one plank of wood that was BENT INTO THE SHAPE OF A BOX. A solid plank of wood… was bent… into the shape of a box and nailed into place. I could not believe it, I just kept staring wondering how. Even though there was a detailed and clear explanation of exactly how. Still I could not fathom this feat. All I could think was this would be a great modern-day Pinterest fail.
Before heading outside to see the lodges and some more totems, we stopped at the museum café. We needed change for the bus, and I was starving. It was the perfect situation for a cookie. After the museum we walked to a nearby beach accessible from campus. Wreck Beach was at the bottom of an unending staircase. With every step I thought to myself, I’m going to have to climb back up all these stairs. At the top we had noticed a crowd gathered around the beach sign, it warned that the beach was clothing optional. Somehow, for some reason, I did not think that there would actually be nude people. Not only was I wrong, I was very wrong, the beach was packed. There were so many nude people walking about. Needless to say it was difficult to take in the nice beachfront ocean view. We sat down on a piece of driftwood and tried to relax and enjoy the beach. Our experience was only made worse when some annoying people sat down nearby and would not shut up. “Oh my god, where the F*CK [emphasis theirs] did you get those shades?!” was enough to make me reconsider my fear of the stairs. I needed to get away from there. They were intolerable, insufferable and I could not stand to listen to them. It was a long slow stair climb back to the top. I was huffing and puffing towards the end.
We stopped at campus Starbucks, I was in desperate need of a green tea lemonade. The bus ride back was even worse than earlier. The bus was crammed with people and I was dangerously hangry. As we drove I stared out the window, we passed by LuLuLab and I made note of it, as it was near Tojo’s sushi restaurant (our plans for the next day). I was also using the fact that LuLuLemon is based in Vancouver as a potential reason to shop the next day. The bus had stopped and I watched as a guy in his car, waiting to turn at the intersection was jamming out to the radio.
We took a mini-break in the hotel. I had enough time to catch up in my notebook and swap out my purses. It was a 45 minute walk to BierCraft. The restaurant was in former Little Italy, now hipster-central. The Toronto Star newspaper had recommended this. As we walked I saw a cat, but he was not having it, he wanted nothing to do with me. An ambulance was about to turn and Brent had started going into the intersection. He moonwalked out of the way to let them pass and it made the driver giggle. In a residential neighbourhood that was not the nicest we saw six pairs of shoes hanging from an overhead wire.
The restaurant was not too busy. I overheard people at a nearby table saying they had been there before (in total I heard three groups say so, it bodes well for the place). We were at a Belgian beer bar, therefore I had to order beer of some sorts. I ordered a sour cherry lambic, Echt Kriekenbier, that I had never seen before. It was the best one I have had thus far. I ordered the poutine dish because the gravy was made with beer. We split a pound of hot wings as well. I was starving, we had barely eaten all day. It was just the right amount of food, except for Brent who had ordered a second beer. There was no way I would get a second beer, it was too much of a gamble and there were no bathrooms on the walk back to the hotel. As we sat on the patio, a lady who was drunk as a skunk kept pestering people on the patio nearer the sidewalk for a dollar.
Walking back we passed a guy in a Blue Jays hat and jersey. Brent shouted “Yeah! Jays!” at the guy. The guy looked bewildered at first, “what?… YEAH!” He was so bleary-eyed and stoned, it was incredible he was able to remain upright and walk. We stopped at a Tim Horton’s. I was curious to see if the west coast had any wacky donuts- they did not, I was very disappointed. Brent had gone looking for a bathroom and came back right as I was choosing timbits (I had decided to change it up and get 10 timbits instead of a donut). He changed my order and added a chocolate timbit. The coconut timbit was not as good as I had remembered. I made Brent eat his two chocolate ones, as I am not a fan of them. The best ones by far were the usual go-tos: birthday cake and sour cream.
We saw two more cats but they were also completely uninterested in me. A guy had stopped at a red light and we started to cross… and he started to drive. He had stopped paying attention and nearly ran us over. A fearful moment like this is not good when you have to pee. I was exhausted by the time we got back. All I wanted was to sleep, but I had to shower- my feet were filthy from wearing sandals all day.