Thursday, August 21, 2008

West Coast finally

I arrived in the city early on Monday afternoon, hardly able to hear a thing because my ears had been popping going up and down the mountains on the drive from Kelowna (my ears pop even on small hills, like Nova Scotia and New Brunswick size and up. I assume it's because I'm from PEI and was never up a mountain until fully grown. I'm a sensitive barometer, basically).

While walking around trying to find a hostel I had to admit to myself that Vancouver is a nice city. I hated to do so because Vancouverites are always bragging up their city - "oh, it has the ocean, and the mountains, and it's international..." and so on. Anyway, they're right, dammit. I ended up staying at the Univeristy of British Columbia because all the hostels were full, presumably because of the Radiohead concert that I found out was going on. My room had this great view of the mountains and the city.

On the bus out there, I was even pleased to see that the locals say hello and thank-you to the bus driver. I haven't seen that in many big cities. A downside would be the local young people have a most annoying accent. And speaking of accents, I don't know if mine was a problem but several people seemed to have trouble understanding me and others seemed amused by my (to me) mundane answers to their questions.

From the university, I walked down to the beach (meeting one of my old Acadia students along the way, small world that it is) and had my first contact with the water of the west.

The next day, I hit up Stanley Park and wandered amongst the big trees.

I visited the aquarium in the afternoon; here's the beluga whale who recently gave birth, thus she has stretch marks/love handles on her (she's swimming upside-down as she's wont to do on occasion, so the rolls are on the top of the picture).

Lion's Gate Bridge and North Vancouver under the clouds that were hanging around.

My foot was really killing me, so I actually went to a doctor to get it checked out and found

out it was just a really bad soft tissue bruise. So the good news was that I wasn't damaging myself by walking around, but I still had to take a day of rest of sorts. So I sacrificed my plan to go to North Vancouver and check out the canyons there.

My last day I wandered around Chinatown, Gastown, and the East Hastings district (they were all within 30 minutes walk of the bus station). Around East Hastings was especially interesting, as that's where a lot of the street people are, and I saw folks lining up for the soup kitchens, people sleeping on the sidewalk in the middle of the day, and just a lot of people who looked worn and down on their luck. So the other side of the glossy city, I suppose. Strangely, that was one part of town where no one was begging for spare change.

Oh, and the final good thing about Vancouver - you can get 20-plus pieces of freshly made sushi for 5 bucks.

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