Vancouver Day 5 – Vancouver, Canada

Again the day started off cool with grey skies.  We decided to go and do the Park Loop on the Hop on Hop off Trolley Bus.  Unfortunately we got the same driver that we had the other day.  He pointed out all the sights which was great but in between speaking he didn’t shift the microphone from his mouth so we had to enjoy his very heavy breathing : 0

The trip took us all around Stanley Park which was great as we were planning to cycle the Seawall around there in the afternoon.  Heavy Breather pointed out all the points of interest and paths to get to certain things which was great because again you can very easily miss things when you don’t know they are there.

After the tour we walked to the bike hire shop – Steve had checked it out a couple of days prior and was quite excited because the bikes were electric, or so he thought.  When we got to Cycle City Tours on Hornby Street he was bitterly disappointed that he had been mistaken – there were no electric bikes in sight.  Not sure what he thought he saw the other day but just confirms that he lives in a state of delusion at times : ). They had only been open for a month and all the bikes were brand new.  Bikes and helmets acquired and we were off.  They have all these bike lanes in Vancouver which are curbed off from the road – they even have their own traffic lights. We rode through the city to Canada Place and the start of the Seawall. I told Steve that I was going to be stopping off along the way to take photos etc.. To me that meant, don’t go too far ahead so we can explore the park together. To Steve that meant great, how fast can I do the Seawall – anyone would think he was doing the Tour de Vancouver. So we cycled the Seawall separately and I didn’t take as many detours as I would have like in case I missed him coming back down to another spot because he was waiting for me – yeah right!

I eventually caught up with him so we could at least cycle back into town together.

Stanley Park is a 405-hectare (1,001-acre) public park that borders the downtown of Vancouver and is almost entirely surrounded by the waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay.

The park has a long history and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. The land was originally used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before British Columbia was colonized by the British during the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. For many years after colonization, the future park with its abundant resources would also be home to nonaboriginal settlers. The land was later turned into Vancouver’s first park when the city incorporated in 1886. It was named after Lord Stanley, a British politician who had recently been appointed governor general.

Unlike other large urban parks, Stanley Park is not the creation of a landscape architect, but rather the evolution of a forest and urban space over many years.  Most of the manmade structures we see today were built between 1911 and 1937 under the influence of then superintendent W.S. Rawlings. Additional attractions, such as a polar bear exhibit, aquarium, and miniature train, were added in the post-war period.

Much of the park remains as densely forested as it was in the late 1800s, with about a half million trees, some of which stand as tall as 76 metres (249 ft) and are up to hundreds of years old.  Thousands of trees were lost (and many replanted) after three major windstorms that took place in the past 100 years, the last in 2006.

Significant effort was put into constructing the near-century-old Vancouver Seawall, which can draw thousands of residents and visitors to the park every day.  The park also features forest trails, beaches, lakes, children’s play areas, and the Vancouver Aquarium, among many other attractions.

On June 18, 2014 Stanley Park was named ‘top park in the entire world’ by TripAdvisor.

Vancouver Rowing Club which has been going since 1886

 You have to cycle around the park anti clockwise and there are separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians 

A statue of Harry Winston Jerome who was a Canadian Track & Field Athlete.  He held seven world records – some for the 100 metre sprint and some for the 100 yard dash – one of only a handful of people to hold both.  He was named British Columbia’s Athlete of the Decade (1871 to 1971).  That is Downtown Vancouver in the background.

Brockton Point Lighthouse built in 1914

Totem Poles in Stanley Park – these are replicas of the ones made in 1880 and the 1920’s and 1930’s.  The originals have been preserved in various museums.

Girl in a Wetsuit is a life size bronze sculpture by Elek Imredy – there was some controversy in relation to it being like the famous Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Elek Imredy was quoted as saying “I didn’t believe we should have a copy of the mermaid. She is rightfully a symbol of Copenhagen… I proposed to have a life-size scuba diver seated there. At that time scuba diving was getting quite popular here in Vancouver and, just as important, I didn’t know of any similar sculpture anywhere in the world. It was a new idea… There was tremendous opposition and great controversy. I still don’t know why.”The Lions Gate Bridge, opened in 1938, officially known as the First Narrows Bridge, is a suspension bridge that crosses the first narrows of Burrard Inlet and connects the City of Vancouver to the North Shore municipalities of the District of North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, and West Vancouver. The term “Lions Gate” refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver. Northbound traffic on the bridge heads in their general direction. A pair of cast concrete lions, designed by sculptor Charles Marega, were placed on either side of the south approach to the bridge in January, 1939.

The stone sculpture behind me is an Inukshuk which is an ancient symbol of the Inuit culture which is traditionally used as a landmark and navigational aid and also represents northern hospitality and friendship.  It is constructed of grey granite and was commissioned for Expo 86 and later gifted to the city of Vancouver.  It was moved to this site in 1987.

We have enjoyed our time in Vancouver and come across some interesting sights as we have wandered around or ridden the bus to and from the city.  As we travelled through the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver we were surprised by the number of homeless people – both sides of the street seemed to be taken up with them and there was always a police presence. 

Homelessness in Vancouver is a social crisis that has been rapidly accelerating over the last decade.  According to the United Nations, homelessness can either be relative or absolute. Absolute homelessness describes people living in absence of proper physical shelter.  Relative homelessness describes people living in poor conditions of health or security, including an absence of both personal safety and steady income despite having physical shelter to reside in.  As of 2011, roughly 2,651 people in Vancouver are subject to one of these types of homelessness, or are transitioning between them.  Homelessness as a social issue in Vancouver originated from federal funding cuts to affordable housing.  After market housing increased, the cost of housing became one of Vancouver’s main causes of homelessness, alongside lack of income. The homeless population in Vancouver have developed or previously suffered from mental health and addiction issues, and they are subjected to high amounts of crime-related victimization. There have been several approaches to reducing the homeless population in Metro Vancouver by the city and other organizations. As of 2011, the rate of homelessness in Vancouver has stopped increasing, but it is not being reduced either.

On one of our bus rides home we sat near these three young Indian people who were planning a weekend away.  They were discussing hiring a car and when they should hire it to and from etc…  The two guys were trying to get a better deal on their phones than the girl could get.  Anyway they were laughing and joking with that great Indian sense of humour.  After sorting their weekend away ‘ride’ the girl then said “OK shall we hire a car this Saturday then so we can practice driving before the weekend away?”  OMG, I hope she was joking!

We stopped for a chat with one of the neighbours one afternoon – he was out doing some concreting.  It turns out he was a Fijian Indian who has lived in Vancouver for the past 35 years.  He was building a concrete ramp for under a gate so he could back his RV in for when his mates come to party in it.

We came across another neighbour on our first day in Vancouver and she had loud music blaring from her car – she came across and said something to us which we have no idea what she was going on about.  Her pet parrot was perched happily on her shoulder.  We came across her or should I say, her car most days – it appeared she didn’t have a sound system in the house so just blasted the music from her car which was sitting on the roadside : 0

On our last day we got off the bus and I was in my cycle gear – this girl got off with us and she said “you look like you’ve been cycling, you didn’t forget to get your bike off the bus did you?”  You can transport your bike on the front of the bus and as she was saying this to us the bus was driving off.  Jokingly I said, oh no I forgot my bike and she believed me.  After having a bit of a laugh about that she asked us if we were Australian – we said no, so she said OK, so are you Australianish, you know like from NZ?  She then proceeded to ask us what language we spoke – we told her English and she said ‘oh English but with an accent’.  She was quite excited to work out that if she ever visited NZ she would be speaking English but with an accent!  She then proceeded to crazy parrot lady’s house who still had her music blaring from her car.  Say no more!

Stevie on the bendy bus – he looks like he has wings : 0

Stevie enjoying some local beer samplers at Steamworks – there are lots of micro breweries in the city which is great but you need to do a sampling tray every time you go to a different bar as no two beers are alike – Steve of course didn’t see a problem with this : )

Yam fries with balsamic glaze and pesto aioli – OMG so good

A cute little VW Combi spotted in Stanley Park

Lunch on our last day from this food truck – Butter Chicken Naan Kebab – delish


This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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1 Response to Vancouver Day 5 – Vancouver, Canada

  1. Catherine Lamb says:

    Very entertaining blog – some funny moments there!

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