Monday, April 17, 2006

Vancouver BC

Spent Easter weekend up in Vancouver, where I think the snow level was somewhere around the 25th floor of most downtown hotels. Since we were staying on the third floor of an apartment/hotel in the West End, all we got was cold rain, much of which was coming at us sideways.

But that's totally typical for this city in mid-April. It's pretty much typical in mid-June, as well, though the snow level is probably somewhat higher. I don't know if I've ever been to Vancouver when it wasn't windy and wet, but that's largely because I usually go in the low season when hotels are cheap and you're only competing with the locals for a table at the latest Indian or Greek restaurant (I recommend the Olympia on Denman).

Even at this time of year, however, you can find plenty of tourists at the border crossings, which are almost bad enough to make the whole idea of traveling to Canada unpalatable. The trip up from Seattle was bad enough. Because of Tuuli's work, we couldn't leave until 3:30. That's the Friday afternoon of Easter Weekend. It was not good. It took us nearly two hours just to get up to Marysville. There was stop and go traffic in Bellingham. We waited at the border for over an hour. We finally limped into Vancouver at about 8:45--over five hours after we left. Mapquest said it should take two hours and 38 minutes. The wait at the border coming back was even worse: an hour and twenty minutes.

We stayed in a small apartment building (the Oceanside) which had been converted to a hotel a few years ago. It was right across from the famous Sylvia Hotel, so was convenient to the water and Stanley Park. Our hotel selections were limited because we had the dog with us, but this place turned out just fine. It was quiet, adjacent to Denman Street, which was great for eating and people-watching and near Stanley Park, with it's Seawall Walk and 22 miles of hiking trails. The hotel was very modest, with simple but clean rooms. There was no pool. Parking, though free, was very limited and there is virtually no street parking in this area. The four-story hotel has no view rooms, so during the worst rain squalls when were stuck in the room, we amused ourselves with the constant parade of scavengers going through the dozens of dumpsters immediate vicinity. There was a notice in the lobby that all rooms had free wireless Internet access. It would have been nice if they had made mention of that on their website. Having my laptop would have made it much easier to research things to do and would have been a boon for the kids.

After arriving late Friday, I took a long walk in the rain to the other end of Denman where there is a large marina. Saturday was spent just screwing around (mostly involving the one thing the kids are interested in--eating) and Sunday we went to the Aquarium. We got home around 5. I immediately threw a big ham (pre-cooked) into the oven and we had our Easter dinner at about 7:30.

One disappointment: I had wanted to pickup a bottle of Absinthe (see earlier post) in Vancouver, where it is supposedly legal. The first liquor store I checked didn't have any, but it was pretty small and I thought the bigger one by the hotel would surely stock it. After not finding it on the shelf, I asked a clerk. He had never heard of it. That depressed me even more than the weather. I'm learning that some things are just not meant to be.

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