After a six hour direct flight from Newark, NJ on Air Canada, I arrived relatively fresh in Vancouver, BC. The flight went by quickly due to the large jet, spacious room in economy, and friendly Canadian flight attendants.
Since the flight left at 7am and because of the three extra hours gained in time difference, I was able to enjoy the day in Vancouver with my writer pal and Vancouver resident, Kasey Wilson. It didn’t hurt that she literally “wrote the book” on Vancouver.
The city passport and the trans link pass offer discounts on many area attractions and enabled me to explore several things that day. But first we wanted to enjoy a Sunday brunch in Gastown, and with luck on our side, we scored a table outside.
Gastown is the funky artsy area filled with wonderful restaurants – the “Soho” of Vancouver. We sat outside at Chill Winston’s and had the typical fare of eggs benedict, pots of Earl Grey tea, and then some Fat Tug IPA, a local brew, and the perfect antidote to a long plane ride!
We then walked up Water Street in Gastown to the waterfront and caught a Harbor cruise – a great way to see the layout of Vancouver. Vancouver is truly a multinational seaport city. The large containers that ship out daily can be seen from the ferry and were a highlight of the cruise, along with the monster orange cranes used to lift them.
These immense creature-like cranes were actually the inspiration to George Lucas in the creation of his “imperial walkers” seen in the Star Wars movie “The Empire Strikes Back”. His container loaders however, were seen alongside the San Francisco Bay.
We motored by rural and beautiful Stanley Park next. The tall pine trees were quite a contrast to the new modern glass buildings along the waterfront.
After the cruise, we walked along Burrad Street and stopped at a favorite coffee shop of mine – Aritigiano. We ordered the best and most decorative cappuccinos and then walked across the street to take in the Vancouver Art Gallery, a wonderful art museum.
On this day there was a guest exhibit of the American Cone Sisters, friends of Picasso and Matisse, who had amassed an amazing collection. It was a fun, full day in Vancouver!
Kasey and I then parted ways and I set off to meet with my new train buddies for dinner at Vancouver’s fabulous seafood restaurant called “Coast”. For starters, Linda, Laura, Ryan, and I tried the sushi and three kinds of small and sweet Pacific Coast raw oysters. The Pinot Gris wine from the Okanagan Valley’s Burrowing Owl Vineyard was complex, full bodied, and a delicious accompaniment to the meal.
B.C.’s Okanagan Valley is world famous for its perfect grape growing climate. I sampled the local Black Cod, also called Sable fish, which has an incredible flavor and melts in your mouth. Following dinner, we went to the Pacific Central Train Station to board our Via Rail sleeper car “The Canadian” for a 22 hour trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta!
I was excited to see my private berth and ecstatic to find out how comfortable the bed was! It was dark, but I could see that the large window at the foot of the bed would be offering some large views in the morning, so I was tempted to sleep with the shade open. My touring class berth also had a private bathroom and sink. It was small, but cozy, and if a friend had been along, there was a top bunk that could be pulled down. I met the other passengers, had a cup of tea in the activity car, watched the night view from the dome car, and was soon lulled to sleep by the constant chug-a–chug- chug of the train. Next week’s installment will feature the train ride to beautiful Jasper National Park, and the wild animals I was able to photograph from a car- including Grizzly Bears!