I arrived in Vancouver on the afternoon of the 7th June, after the night flight from Auckland – it had been a long day, I had left my hostel in Australia at 8am over 23hrs previously and it was still the 7th June! I waited for Eva to arrive and made her a sign – it was weird but good to see her after five months.
We lugged all of our bags to our accommodation, a place called Churchill House, where we spent forever chatting and getting ready to go to dinner.
When we finally made it out, we were talking so much on the skytrain that we forgot to get off at our stop!
We eventually got to MeeT, a lovely vegan restaurant in Gastown, which serves comfort food like burgers, as well as tasty cocktails. We splashed out as it was our first night reunited!
We had portobello mushroom burgers and two cocktails each (a pineapple basil one and a tequila mojito)! Despite our extravagance, the meal was still very cheap.
We got up quite late the next day (I had only got to sleep at 3am, because of the time difference). We decided to visit the Bloedel Conservatory – a big dome built in the 1960s, which houses plants and over 150 free flying birds.
It was such a cool place to be, with the birds swooping overhead, the cockatoos and parrots preening and occasionally talking. There was a big feeding area where most of the bird congregated. We spent over three hours in there, watching them and taking hundred of photos!
We especially loved the cockatoos – like Blanca, who hung from her branch by her beak and Kramer, who was a salmon pink colour and knew lots of phrases.
After our long afternoon in the conservatory, we wanted some ice cream, so went back to our accommodation via safeway to get some. Our evening was relaxed, we ate food and watched TV – but still didn’t get to bed early!
The second full day in Vancouver was bright, but not particularly warm. We took the chance to explore more fully. We found a cool art deco building called the Marine Building, which was decorated with sea creatures.
We had a wander round the waterfront and a bit called Canada Place, which has a walkway with names of different Canadian towns by Provence. After this we had a proper wander around the hipster streets of Gastown and saw the steam clock do it’s thing.
We had lunch in a lovely vegan pizzeria, called Virtuous Pie. The pizza was very tasty, as was the vegan ice cream! They had water on tap that you could take for free throughout your meal.
After faffing around and running into various shops to get change, we took a bus up to Stanley Park, the massive park north of downtown. This park is so beautiful. It runs along by the coast and has both cultivated and non cultivated areas. At the end of the park is a bridge that leads to North Vancouver, which we traveled along later in our journey.
One of our favourite things in Stanley park was the goth squirrels. This is not their real name, sadly, but you have to admit they have that stylishly gloomy look.
We really enjoyed walking around in the sun. it was very warm, but it was nice and the park was very beautiful. We sat around for a while by the Lion Bridge and watched the world go by.
We also found a cool and very sittable-on tree!
We took the bus back to our accommodation and spent a while getting dressed up to go out. We had found a gay club we wanted to check out. Before we headed to the club, we stopped at the Vancouver lookout tower, which wasn’t very expensive to go up. We timed it to coincide with the sunset! We spent a while there, enjoying the view, then headed up one more floor to the revolving restaurant, where we ordered cocktails and admired the view. The moon was massive and bright and kept being partially covered by clouds, making it look like an odd-shaped UFO.
We headed down and caught the bus to the club. We had to change buses as our one broke, which was especially annoying because it was cold. When we arrived we were sad to learn that entry to the club was $40 as it was a special night. We had a strange cocktail each in the bar opposite, then headed home to have our own drinks and watch Hannibal!
The next day was a day of traveling: we had to take a train and a bus to Tsawwassen ferry terminal, where we caught the ferry to Vancouver Island, then another bus from Schwarz Bay into Victoria. The journey was 5hrs door to door, so we were understandably tired when we arrived. We repacked our stuff to fit it nicely into our assigned lockers, bought food and ate before the day was over.
The next morning we had a leisurely one: we ate breakfast and watched TV, then ventured out to go and watch whales! We had booked the tour a few months previously and we were very excited to see orcas, dolphins, seals and possibly humpback whales!
The company was called Spring Tide Whale Watching. We arrived and joined the group, paying our small conservation fee. We walked to our boat and boarded, enthusiastically taking seats on the bench right at the front of the front deck. We were given a safety briefing, which was momentarily interrupted by a sea plane taking off noisily.
As we set off into the bay, our chosen seats began to take a beating from the wind. I asked for an extra jacket (these were given out to people as part of the tour) and Eva shared a pair of her gloves with me. After a while I couldn’t take the cold any longer, so I retreated inside and grabbed a hot chocolate.
We went on for a long time without seeing anything, except for one or two fins that belonged to porpoise or dolphins. We were beginning to worry that we wouldn’t see any whales at all, when the boat turned and headed in a new direction. All the boats in the area radio each other when looking for whales, to tell each other where they are. We were heading towards a whale sighting.
As we approached we were joined by at least nine other boats. We stopped for a while and waited to see the whales, but then we moved on again. Eventually we caught up with them: a group of four orcas, a family of a mum and three babies of varying ages.
They were so beautiful.
I wanted to watch the orcas for hours. They came up out of the water very often, moving as a close knit group, popping up in different combinations. The boats following them maintained a suitable distance and the cameras snapped. Eva and I became enthralled in watching and photographing them, so much so that Eva almost stepped off the edge of the boat with her one foot (there were railings, so she would have stayed on board)!
Eventually it was time to leave the beautiful whales, We were in a state of bliss after what we had seen and we were very sad to be torn away. We both want to see orcas again.
On the way back to the harbour, we stopped to look at some bald eagles chilling out on a rock, as well as a group of loudly honking sea lions and an elephant seal flobbling its way up a shallow slope.
As we pulled back into the harbour, we were told about one or two things, including one building, which is technically classed as a boat and used for navy training. We were also told about the sea plane runway, which is the only runway in the world that occasionally has to close because of whales!
We headed for dinner at a lovely Buddhist restaurant called Lotus Pond where the food was cheap and tasty and lots!
We then went for a walk around to Fisherman’s Wharf, which has lots of floating shops. As we walked, we watched the sun set and chatted. We saw a harbour seal chilling out, but it dived away as we got close.
When we got to Fisherman’s Wharf, everything was shut, but we met a lovely, but pretty fat cat called Humphrey, who just sat there as we said hello. He resembled a furry puddle.
On the way back to our hostel, we walked past the beautifully lit British Columbia Parliament Building and the pretty harbour. Victoria is an unexpectedly stunning city – both Eva and I were surprised at how nice it was there, mainly because we didn’t know much about it before we went. It is well worth a visit!
On our second (and last) full day in Victoria, we decided to visit the bug zoo. The bug zoo is a small place, only two rooms and a shop, that houses a collection of insects, arachnids and a few other creatures of a many-legged nature.
The zoo’s aim is to educate people, especially children, on the importance and beauty of these creatures, to help conserve them out in the world. There is a tour guide that moves around the rooms, explaining a little about each bug and giving you a chance to hold the more harmless ones.
Eva and I held practically everything! We held a beetle, a leaf bug, a praying mantis, a thorny devil, some millipedes (including one as long as my forearm) and a hissing cockroach. They don’t let you hold the centipedes because they are wildly aggressive.
Our favourite part of the experience was getting to hold the beautiful Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula, who gently strolled along our palms in a friendly manner. We also held a beautiful scorpion called Max!
Again, we were sad when we had to leave the bug zoo – it was such a cool idea and so much fun to visit! Our evening went by gently: we watched a film and ate dinner.
The next day we travelled back the way we came to Vancouver and checked into a different accommodation. This was much nicer than our first Vancouver accommodation which was in a very smelly, damp basement. This was an attic-type room in a bright, airy house and had two cupboards built under the eaves, which were fun to play in!
This time in Vancouver, so we didn’t do any more sight seeing – we had a job to do. We headed out to a massive shop called Canadian Tyre, where we bought around $200 worth of camping equipment, including bear spray. We returned on the bus clumsily, made a late dinner and skyped Mum and Dad before bed.
More on our Canadian adventures soon – in which we pick up a car and drive several thousand kilometers!