The bus trip with BoltBus from Seattle to Vancouver was quick. The only nuisance was that we had to carry our entire luggage across the boarder and walk through customs and then put it back on the bus again. Once in Vancouver, I took another bus to get to my couchsurfers house. I expected the usual small appartment where I’d sleep in the living room. However, this time I entered a 3 mio. dollar appartment with an amazing view over Coal Harbor, the boats and sea planes and the mountains in the background. The Vancouver waterfront is very scenic. We went out do dinner in a delicious Japanese restaurant. There are so many sushi places here that all the competition keeps the taste high and prices pretty low. Vancouver is also the city of Japadogs. A hot dog with Japanese seasonings. I tried one from a street vendour and it was delicious! I strolled along the ocean and watched the sea planes land and take off and I watched the huge cruise ships at Canada Place. There also is the Canada Trail, where they mark all major Canadian cities and states on the ground.
I wanted to do the free walking tour but almost couldn’t find the group at the starting point at the art museum, since Taiwan Fest was going on. I finally found them just as they were about to leave. I didn’t necessarily see new things but I learned about why there are so many neon signs, riots when Vancouver loses an important hockey game and the city’s history. We ended up in Gastown. On a cute street with shops and small cafés there was a steaming clock that played a melody with steam pumps every quarter hour. There also was a food festival in Chinatown and the PNE fair. It seems like there is always a lot going on in Vancouver. I went to the fair the next day. There were a lot of vendors trying to sell household utensils but there also were farm animals, loads of free samples and rides.
One evening, my couchsurfer brought me to Stanley Park. We went there right before dawn, so that we could see the park with daylight but then would have the view of the city with all the lights on. The skyline was amazing! Afterwards, we went to one of the restaurants at Coal Harbor for a drink. The restaurants are all very pretty and there was live music too. Unfortunately, I never made it into Canada’s nature but I’m sure there will come a time for that. On my last day it poured all day, so that I decided to spend it looking for jobs at home, after I got soaked when I went to buy a donut at Tim Horton’s. Plus, my couchsurfer’s building had a free gym on the 31st floor with a Jacuzzi and a sauna. The windows were from floor to ceiling and therefore, I felt as if I was cycling in the sky, while I was on the bike.
After 5pm on Tuesdays, the Art Gallery is ‘entry by donation’. Since my flight left at midnight, we still had two hours to go there and afterwards eat a huge (and cheap&delicious) sushi platter from Momo Sushi (try the house roll). I arrived at the airport early enough but it took me a long time to check in since the woman who checked me in wasn’t familiar with the ESTA visa for the US. It’s electronically attached to the passport and therefore, she shouldn’t need to see a visa or number from me. After about 15min of trying different numbers from the receipt which I luckily still had saved on my laptop, her supervisor told her that she could skip that whole visa page. Still, I didn’t get around paying 25$ for my suitcase for flying in the US. Apparently, Canada doesn’t count as international. I didn’t have to pay when I came from Fiji. The flights to Newark via Montréal were short and ok. However, there wasn’t any free food on Air Canada. I guess they are not on the same level as Swiss and Emirates. Anyways, Vancouver was a nice last stop on the North American West Coast. I’ve wanted to come to Vancouver for a long time and now I’ve finally seen this clean city with its beautiful waterfront.