Tag Archives: dtes

Day 23 – Vancouver

For some time I’ve been intrigued by Expo 86, when Vancouver hosted the World’s Fair. I decided to take a walk down to False Creek where it all happened.

For me it was of the very few downpoints of my trip. It was as if it was all but forgotten about. In fact, there seems to be three things left in the world that are from Expo 86 – the dome, which is now a science museum, the Pavilion, which is now a casino, and the monorail, which is now at Alton Towers (about an hour away from me).

It was so disappointing. Today was so warm and sunny, blue sky – much like the old photos I’ve seen of Expo 86. I was standing in the place where thousands of people had a great time 25 years ago. Now most of it is flattened.

Anyway, I walked to Gastown, passing the BC and Canucks stadiums, skirting East Hastings (as mentioned in a previous post, we drove through DTES at night which was scary. Though that said, I kind of regret not walking through in the day time). Went to a Chinese shop looking for cheap luggage, came out buying cheesy shit I don’t need. Went to a 7/11 for a Big Gulp and watched a lad hitting on a girl who I don’t think was really a girl…

Gastown’s an old neighbourhood that is now reinvented into this hip place. Named after ‘Gassy’ Jack, an English captain come Saloon landlord known for talking all the time about his tales, hence ‘gassing’ (which is quite an old English term for talking a lot). I admired his statue for a while, then checked out the steam clock, which sounded these cute, slightly flat chimes every quarter of an hour. The architecture is lovely in this part – brick streets, a flat iron building bringing two streets together, ornate detail, avenue feel with all the trees. Plenty of bars.

I then walked toward the waterfront. The skytrain station there is a beautiful, grandiose building with towering classical columns. Across the Harbour Centre with its 70s 360º observation tower.

I had a great look around the Canada Place, which is where the cruise liners dock. It has ten sails, which is a landmark of the west coast. Apparently one for each province? The paths have all the provinces, territories and main towns engraved in the lovely DIN typeface. Loads of info to read about Canada and Vancouver’s history, present and future.

The next day I visited again as they had a small exhibition on the 1812 war. A bit of a poor effort to be honest, let’s hope Ottawa made more of an effort on remembering this very important piece of history!

Day 15 – Yoho National Park and back to Vancouver

We planned to set off early, as the journey takes about ten hours. That didn’t quite go to plan but never mind.

As we headed home on the Trans-Canada Highway we took an early exit on to Yoho National Park. This road was interesting because it had a ridiculous incline up a cliff face, which we had to corner well or reverse back to get around the bends. Then we saw a beautiful waterfall crashing down a large creek. We seemed quite far away from it, but the sound and sight of it was magnificent. From there, we drove and realised only at the end of the road that it was actually a dead end.

We made it back to the highway and stopped off at a couple more places, including a gorgeous little gem called Emerald Lake. We also had a look at the Kicking Horse river, a long, powerful, river which travels some distance.

On our long trip back, we established that we’d stop off again in Kamloops, have a break, maybe another cotton candy ice cream… Hours went by, and at this point I’m seriously in desperate need for a piss, and having hunger shakes. We’re driving past road signs with names of towns we recognise: Merritt, Kelowna. Anyway, couldn’t find this place. I was desperate and we decided the next sign we see with the park picnic table symbol, we’re stopping off.

Lac Le Jeune was our stop off. We approached a campsite there in the hope of seeing toilets. Mitch, with his instinct of driving on the left side of the road, went round the traffic hut the wrong way. No problem, no one around. We drove along this road and it became apparent that we were entering red neck country. There’s a load of reserved pitches, most occupied, and we pulled into one without a pickup and caravan on it. We had a bunch of locals looking at us, thinking we’re weirdos, as we’re thinking the same about them. I ran to the loo, and could barely stand up!

Mitch and me swap over, now I’m behind the wheel, and we’re leaving the campsite. As I approach that hut, there’s now a police officer and the campsite manager, telling me to pull over. “Oooh shit” we’re thinking. I did exactly the same as Mitch and drove on the left, being the wrong side of the road in Canada, in front of a police officer. Anyway, I was told off for the campsite manager for speeding around his campsite. I apologised profusely and we took off.

We saw another sign, for Logan Lake, and decided to stop there. We refuelled, washed our hands as there were no sinks at the campsite, and headed to the park to eat. This little town seemed all new, planned and pleasant. We ate our sweaty, overloaded cheese sandwiches, washed the grease off our hands and carried on back to Vancouver in hope of dropping the car off before the 10pm deadline.

On our way, we passed the visitor centre we planned to stop at. There is no way we would have lasted that long without pissing ourselves.

Vancouver took absolutely ages to get in to due to the roadworks. We eventually got to downtown, and drove through a really shitty, rundown area. I was genuinely surprised at what was in front of me. Groups of homeless, mentally-ill or drug-ridden folk in a couple of groups of a dozen, easy. All out on the main streets. We later learned this was the infamous East Hastings, or Downtown East Side.

After off loading our bounty of groceries from Safeway in Alberta (took advantage of the 5% tax there), we got the car back at 10.30pm.