Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 11 - 31 August 2000
Vancouver. The 31st had light clouds with some haze.  Click here to see what the weather is like today in Canada.
  Sightseeing in Vancouver

Chris We arose early today, as we had planned a full day of sightseeing around Vancouver. Our schedule allowed for only one day in this city, so we had to pack a lot into it. We had to venture out for breakfast as the restaurant at our motel wasn't open at this time - 7am. (During the drive we had to stop to allow an ambulance to pass.) Our breakfast at the "Java Cup" wasn't really enough, at least for me. I had just coffee and toast while Vanessa had tea and a large salad sandwich. We returned to the motel to freshen up and collect our backpacks.
  We had been wondering about some flashing green traffic lights we'd seen on the roads, so as we were heading out again, we asked at the motel reception for their meaning. The green light flashing meant that a request for a pedestrian crossing had been made, supposedly, although there were a number of times we had observed the flashing lights without any pedestrians being around. The receptionist said that you shouldn't slow down, but you should accelerate instead to avoid the light changing. ;-)
  Some TV shows we watch are filmed in Vancouver.On our drive through the downtown area to Stanley Park (our first stop for the day), we passed some fire engines parked outside a skyscraper. The building was being evacuated for reasons unknown to us. We certainly couldn't see any fires. At another point, we passed a film crew doing a street scene. It looked like a police-type drama, but neither of us recognized the show.
  Vanessa observed that the buses here are dual powered, using electric cables overhead or diesel if the cables were unavailable. Another observation was that wooden owls were put on buildings to keep the pigeons away. This was also done in Seattle.
  Stanley Park is a huge place. It would have taken us all day to just walk around it and visit all the features. Instead, we chose to take a one hour horse drawn carriage tour. The driver did a running commentary about the sites, history and the horses. One of the first sites we saw was an island next to the park. It was barely an island with a small causeway between it and the mainland. In times past, it was a burial area for the local natives, then a place of quarantine for those with small pox, until it finally became a naval training area.
  The tour stopped near some totem poles. The area was currently undergoing some construction work, so it wasn't possible to get very close to the poles. We passed a cricket field, but since it was a work day there was no one playing. There were lots of trees, some were hundreds of years old according to the driver. Some had been struck by lightning and had died. It was possible to tell the age of these trees and estimate the ages of the still living ones.
  Hard working, but very well cared for.We had two horses pulling the carriage. We were told they were a type of Clydesdale and they were very familiar with their tasks. There were several teams, so the horses didn't have to work continuously each day. Some of the horses had starred in various TV productions created in Vancouver. The city is the third largest film and TV production centre in North America, after LA and New York, of course. We didn't catch all the shows mentioned by the driver, but "Sliders", "Stargate" and "Seven Days" were in the list.
  The park contains some very black squirrels. These squirrels are descendants of eight pairs given to the park from New York's Central Park. Why this was done is a mystery to us.
  Vanessa just had to try an American style hot dog - in Canada!After the tour, we perused a souvenir store under a restaurant, but chose not to buy anything. We left the park and drove to the University of British Columbia district. Our aim was to go to the Museum of Anthropology - a part of the University. The drive to there required taking a slightly torturous route, but we did find the location with minimal error. When we arrived, it was lunch time. Unfortunately, there were no obvious nearby eating places, so we had to drive back out of the university grounds and search the adjoining suburbs. Eventually we found a place in Dunbar St called "Soda's Diner" which was a 50's style diner. I had a very satisfying Spanish Omelette and Vanessa had a hot dog with cheese and bacon. Even though we had not had a big breakfast and it was several hours since our last food, we still couldn't manage to consume it all.
Vanessa The museum has some really good displays!I had been wanting to see something of the culture of the First Nation peoples - the real people and how they had lived, not the tourist face that we'd been seeing. Chris and I had thought that the museum would be a good place to start. The museum was celebrating its 50th anniversary and was holding some displays of contemporary First Nation art, and these were very good, but we were more interested in the historic displays. The museum had a very impressive array of items from native peoples from all over the world - including huge locally-created totem poles and some Australian Aboriginal artifacts. We spent a pleasant hour or so wandering around, but we could have easily spent days in there looking at all the wood and stone carvings, woven goods, pottery, weapons, paintings and jewellry. Each item was very well displayed with appropriate lighting and informative labelling. The only thing that spoilt the visit was the car parking arrangements. The meters were overpriced and the short time limit was ridiculous. Perhaps this was because it was part of the University and it was a fund-raising scheme?
  After the Museum of Anthropology, we had planned to go to the HR McMillan Space Centre, but Chris did some reading in our tourist brochures and discovered that it was orientated more towards children, so the thought became to do a scenic drive into the mountains instead. As we were sitting in the car starting to plot our course (still in the museum grounds) a friendly local, who was sitting in the car next to us, overheard our discussion and suggested a good route to take. Chris didn't have the heart to tell him that it was the way he already intended to go!
Chris No bears in sight!The drive took us back downtown, through Stanley Park and over the Lion's Gate Bridge, which is an old three lane, very busy bridge to the north and west in Vancouver. Our scenic route went up Cypress Bowl Road into the Cypress Provincial Park. The road was essentially a series of switchbacks to the top of a mountain and back down the other side. We only went part way down the other side, before turning around and heading back to the city. There were two stops along the way that provided magnificent views of Vancouver, the harbour, Vancouver Island (west) and the Orcas Island (south). The lower stop had a manned information booth where we signed a visitor register. There were numerous warning signs about bears, particularly not to feed them - "A fed bear is a dead bear". They are very bear conscious here. The parks have strong metal garbage bins with specially designed tight lid seals. Outside the information booth there was a noticeboard of the day's weather, animal sightings, etc. Someone had apparently seen a bear earlier in the day about 500m away from the booth but, unfortunately, it was long gone by the time we had arrived.
  It was late afternoon and we were tired, so we drove back to the motel via the Second Narrows Bridge. As we expected, we got caught in peak hour traffic and had to crawl along for a while.
  Perhaps it could have been spicier?Dinner was at the "Bunga Raya" restaurant that was attached to our hotel. From the outside, the restaurant gave the impression of possibly being Indian style, however it served Malaysian cuisine. Vanessa had stir fry vegetables with chicken and rice, which was okay, but nothing special. I had fish in sambal sauce with rice, which was above average, although I was disappointed that the chef might have purposely reduced the spicyness for "European" taste.
  The rest of the evening was spent quietly watching TV, especially after I discovered that the net access we had hoped for in Canada was not going to be possible.