Friday, 1 July 2016

Vancouver and back

One of the seriously great perks of my job in I.T. is that I get to travel, and by travel, I mean all over the world. And while traveling on business I never ever fail to build in a bit of free time on weekends to do some exploring, that is not to say that of an early morning before work or after work I don't head out onto the streets of what ever city I happen to be in and just stroll around taking in the sights.
Vancouver streets
Vancouver streets - Church having its roof replaced under cover
Start of Gas town
Steam Clock at Gas Town
Street scene
And now for something so alien to me I just have to make comment; how on earth does a city get it right to have an area designated as a community park where the residents can apply for and then grow there own plants in an open area and in the knowledge that it will be safe from vandalism, and any person (like I did) can stroll on in and walk around appreciating their labours?
Community garden in Vancouver
Canada Place - Cruise ship harbour
Robson street
I was living in a fantastic apartment in the Carmana Plaza on the 30th floor which afforded me some incredible views of the city, surrounding mountains and the coming and goings of cruise ships.
Carmana Plaza
Cruise ship leaving
Tower block opposite my apartment
View straight down from my apartment
My propensity for walking and seeing things was made rather evident to me on my recent trip to Vancouver for a business meeting of all the I.T. Managers from our offices around the world, when one of them inquired of our colleague from the Vancouver office 'where he could see or get xyz item' he was informed by our Vancouver colleague to rather ask me as I would not only know where to find it but also how to get there...... Vancouver is an incredibly clean, neat, ordered, organised city; a far far cry from the filthy, disordered, unsafe chaos of Johannesburg from where I come, so you can imagine (or you probably can't - having not experienced it) what an absolute pleasure it is for me to walk freely and safely around a city. So back to the business at hand; we worked, had our meetings blah blah blah and out I got on the road. Here I have attached a map of the city so you can get an idea of where everything is that I am talking about.
There were a number of walks through and around the city and along the harbour wall, walks out to Stanley park, walks down to Yaletown to catch the quaint little Aquabus's to get down to Granville island market - I could have caught the transit bus #50, but I only do that when I've overdone it a bit and my feet want to fall off. The following set of photos are of Granville Island and surrounds
On the weekend I went into Stanley park to the Vancouver Aquarium specifically to see the Beluga whales.  All the creatures in the aquarium are either from breeding in the facility or that have been rescued from the wild due to injury etc and cannot be re-introduced into the wild. The Beluga whales are amazing to watch, it is the only whale that can bend its neck to look around, then there was the "Discover Rays Touch Pool" experience; the aquarium has this enormous pool where you are allowed to hang your hand in the water and allow the ray's to move past against them on the hand, and the weird thing was one of the rays took a fancy to me and made repeat touches over and over again.
Walk through Stanley park to the Aquarium
Walk through Stanley park to the Aquarium
Squirrels on the walk through Stanley park to the Aquarium
Walk next to Stanley Park
View of the city from Stanley Park
Ray Pool
Ray Pool
Frog display
Beluga whale
Beluga whale
Really grumpy fish
Who says you cant swim in the sea in Canada..... I took my bathing apparel along on the trip with the main purpose of finding a gym with a pool either in my apartment block or at worst nearby. But when I was there and I was surprised at how warm the weather was, I decided on the weekend after a brunch with the team that I was going to brave the odds and go for a swim at English Bay. At English bay are the incredible A-maze-ing Laughter statues
A-maze -ing Laughter Statues
A-maze -ing Laughter Statues
A-maze -ing Laughter Statues
 There were a goodly number of people sunbathing on the beach, but only one or 2 folks actually in the water - hence it must be cold - now cold water was never something to scare me off having swum year after year on our annual holidays to the South African Cape at a town called Fish Hoek and also having swum albeit very briefly at Vina del Mar in Chile, South America - The water was incredible, not too cold but enough for me to have 3 good swims before heading back to the apartment in time for dinner.
English Bay 
Panorama view of English Bay
Park at English bay 
On the weekend I did a side trip out to Capilano suspension bridge, always fun and a rather nice outdoor diversion walking around on suspended walkways in the tree tops and on the forest floor.
Free Shuttle bus from Vancouver city (Canada Place) to Capilano
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Up in the trees there are platforms that the walkways join onto, standing on these platforms you will invariably find a Parks person to whom you can direct questions on the flora and fauna found there, I even got treated to a very illuminating explanation on how the platforms are attached to the trees and the importance of the health and safety of the trees 
Rather vertiginous metal grate platform with glass sides over looking the gorge
Below are a general selection of pictures in around Vancouver that I took while on my endless walks
Park next to Coal Harbour
Small boat harbour in Coal Harbour
Totems in Stanley Park
Totems in Stanley Park
Totems in Stanley Park
Totems in Stanley Park
Seaplane peddling across the harbour in take off
Seaplane harbour
Ferry coming across from Vanvouver to Lonsdale Quay
Lonsdale Quay
Huge cruise ship docked at Canada Place
And so it came to pass that all good things must come to an end, and I started the return trip to South Africa. The trip back proved to be a bit hellish, I had to make an 11 hour layover at the Charles de Gaulle airport, not something I would recommend.... ever.

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