My Life as a Traveler

Weird Stuff Starts to Happen in Vancouver

It’s Day 2 of our Alaska trip and we are heading from Seattle to Vancouver, BC, Canada. Because of the three-hour east coast/west coast time difference, it was easy to get up early to catch our 7:30am train. I love it when jet lag works for you.

Amtrak is the absolute best way to travel from Seattle to Vancouver. When I lived in Portland in the 80’s, they had suspended this route, so I’m glad to see it’s back. The train follows the coastline and there are so many gorgeous views of Puget Sound that can only be seen from the rails. We roll by a shipwreck on the beach, a foggy river, a busy lumber mill, and some small towns. No better way to travel…

Until we got to Vancouver. Here is where things start to get wonky. There were three weird and unhappy things that happened, even before we got to our hotel. First, even though we got there on time, it took almost an hour to get through customs and into Canada. They would not let us get out of our train car until almost everyone else had disembarked. At least we got to wait comfortably, but still, one hour??

The second wonky thing was that the only place to get Canadian money was a money-changing booth that charged 16% to exchange our US dollars for Canadian dollars. The  cash machine (no fee) was broken. Hmm…. frustrating.

To get to our hotel, we needed to take the light rail. I wasn’t exactly sure which stop was closest to our hotel, so, while I was asking the light rail guy (who didn’t know), the train started to leave. Susie got on, but not me. It was too crowded. Panic rushed through me as I stood there, watching Susie’s face in the window as the car pulled away. You’d think that’s a thing that only happens in the movies! Eventually we met up, found the right stop, walked up the hill until we found ourselves at the Sheraton.

First order of business, dim sum. I wanted to go to Vancouver’s Chinatown for lunch, but it was just too late and it was several miles of walking away. The hotel recommended a restaurant nearby and we were happy to see that pretty much all the clientele were Asian (a good sign for a Chinese restaurant). What’s dim sum? Think Chinese tapas. Little plates of two to three pieces of appetizer-like goodies served for brunch. Very yummy.

After our late lunch, we walked down to the waterfront. We’re met with the sculpture that held 2008 Olympic torch and breathtaking views across the water to North Vancouver. From here we could see the Canada Place, the cruise ship terminal. We walked on through Gastown (old-town Vancouver) and did some shopping, made it to Chinatown (the largest on the West Coast) and then back to our Sheraton. Another seven miles on the pedometer. Yay!

The hotel had a great lounge with a spectacular view of the sunset over English Bay. Good food, too. Well, at least I thought so for a while. As we retired for bed, I had a bit of a stomach upset. No worries, I thought, I’ll feel better tomorrow when we get out of the city and have a nice walk in the woods.

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