The red-eye from Honolulu to Vancouver took a toll on all of us, but definitely did not crush our spirits. Once we debarked in Canada, we immediately became giddy – our adventure begins!
The Vancouver airport was very clean and featured nice cultural and nature exhibits. The air was crisp and encouraged us to walk briskly towards customs. We proceeded to use a self checkout kiosk, which handled our declarations and took our pictures. First funny moment – Lena had to retake her picture and was told by the computer that she needs to take off her hat, even though she was not wearing one!
We were able to store our bags at the airport and after a quick research, decided to take a cab to downtown. The morning was cold and rainy and the longer train ride did not sound that appealing (and was not much cheaper) as we already had a goal in mind – breakfast!
After encountering a line at our first destination, Naomi quickly led us to the “Dirty Apron,” a rustic and elegant sandwich shop and deli. We ordered warm drinks and breakfast and while the food was coming, Karol and I decided that it is not too early to start celebrating our vacation with a bottle of red wine. I’m pretty sure everyone agreed.
Our next stop was the Union Hotel and Pub, which Yelp recommended as a possibly cheap day hotel. I was hoping to escape the cold and maybe get some shut-eye time; alas, it was not meant to be. The building was quite run down but we did not want to judge the book by its cover. Once the very squeaky door opened to the smell of musk and cigarettes and a local crowd glued to the Price Is Right, the idea of staying at the Union Hotel was met with a resounding NO vote from the group.
Following Keane’s suggestion, we made our way to the train station and bought a $10 (or 7.70 USD) day pass to have the option of roaming a little more freely. We then headed to the waterfront and Naomi led us to the Fly Over Canada experience – a well done immersive projection of the many beautiful sights of Canada that you experience while strapped onto a seat that turns, rises, and falls as you “fly” over the panoramas.
In the spirit of adventure, we hopped a few stop on skytrain and ended up in a less touristy part of Vancouver where we walked for a little bit.
As the rain let up and the sun came out, we decided to take a chance on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Facing time constraints, instead of navigating public transportation we called a cab and headed past Stanley Park and into North Vancouver. The suspension bridge park was not too crowded – probably because of the weather earlier – but we had to constantly fight a group of tourists that insisted on photo opps at the most narrow of walkways, forcing everyone to wait on them. I think this experience reminded us to be more aware of our surroundings and the space we often take up unintentionally. The park itself was beautiful and we only wish we had more time to spend there.
Unfortunately, the one thing we did not have was time. We called for a cab to the airport (thank you, T-Mobile, for full service in Canada!), narrowly dodging the afternoon bottle-neck created by five traffic lanes merging into one on the bridge leading back to Vancouver. We made it just on time to pick up our bags and enjoy a last-minute (ask Keane how last-minute it was!) meal before boarding our plane to England.
Exhausted but happy that we made a full day out of a long layover, we now are now a 9.5-hour flight away from meeting up with Bowe in London! As we have spent more money in Vancouver than we originally anticipated, we plan to regroup and make more thorough plans for our next destinations. We learned to make sure that we have options for bad weather and budgets and to be more careful when planning routes to avoid back and forth travel. All in all, I would say that although we are a bit poorer after our first day, we already are a bit wiser.