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Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-08-20 22:28:32 | Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Keywords: mountain, shopping, water
After my short visit to Victoria, I was looking forward to be in Canada's 3rd largest city, and I had some shopping to do, to get clothes mostly, plus a trip to the dollar store. I had booked three full days in that city sitting at the foot of the Rockies, which I hoped to finally see clearly after my deception from Denver.

When I first arrived to my hotel in late afternoon Friday, I already had a list of places to go do some errands downtown, relatively close to my hotel.  I went to Staples to get colour copies of my passport, something I forgot to de before departure and didn't have the occasion to do before.  I then visited two Dollorama stores along my route to get some luggage tags with the Canadian flag.  My last stop of the night was for my custom T-shirt.

On Saturday morning, I visited two Wal-mart stores to get some cargo shorts (one of my initial shorts got torn away while I was in Seattle), socks and undies.  I got a great deal at the second location. 

Since I had bought a day pass for that day, I used it a lot to explore the Sky train network and also take the Seabus to reach North Vancouver.  The view wasn't as good as I hoped, but was nice.

Sunday was mostly a rest day, plus planning next stops.  Since I got no couch surfing offer, I had to book a hostel room, at a very high price (touristic location, limited offers peak of season, etc).  I had found dorm beds, and was tempted, even if I was reserving that for one-nighters, but I also considered I was doing the previous night on the bus so I'd most likely need a nap upon arrival.

Amongst other preps I made was to begin my couch search for Sacramento and San Francisco.   I will begin the one for Los Angeles while in Banff.  Monday, due to late departure (16-hour bus ride will begin just after midnight) I left my suitcase at the hotel and bought another day pass to explore more of the city.

But to talk about Vancouver....

I have a very good overall impression of the city.  The cost of living is very high and the city has challenges in terms of dealing with poverty, especially since the poorest are located just one street away from the very touristic Gastown,

Despite its size, the city is very walkable and you can easily join all attractions by foot.  The transit system is expensive (roughly $10 for a day pass) but efficient with the Sky train (mostly aerial light rail system) and Seabus (ferry) in addition to many express bus lines, even on weekends.

Just like Victoria, Vancouver also has a seaplane terminal right downtown, offering tours but mostly regular transit liaisons.  However, because of the huge port traffic and many marinas, the population has very little access to the waterfront, except from the Stanley Park area.  In the marinas, you find luxurious yachts but also houseboats, some with a funny design.

Maybe due to the many big cruise ships visiting Vancouver every week, I was expecting some form of wharf activity but there is none.  Perhaps is it because Vancouver is the start/end of the cruises, not just a stop along the way for most cruise ships docking in its port.  That was quite disappointing.

Of course, Vancouver is definitely turned towards Asia.  No sign of Spanish here, compared to any other city I've visited in the USA for example.  But lots of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese signs.  Vancouver has the largest Chinatown in Canada, which is also one of the oldest (dating back to 19th century) and biggest in the world.  More than in any other city, you cannot visit Vancouver without immersing yourself in its Chinatown.

Despite mostly cloudy weather, I did see some patches of blue sky and I enjoyed my visit here.  I'll be back for about 2 hours next weekend before taking the bus for Seattle.

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