Vancouver and Seattle
June, 5th to 22nd, 1999
Saturday june 5'th
This trip started on saturday morning. First I took the bus from my home to Billund, and then using Maersk-Air to London, Gatwick. In London I had to change airport to Heathrow, where British Airways would take me to Vancouver
The fligt from Billund was late - almost 2 hours. But that was no problem - I thought - I had plenty of time - I thought - because I had to leave Heathrow at 6 pm - I thought. But arriving at Heathrow I discovered that I actually was very close to being late. 6 pm was ok - but that was arriving in Vancouver - the departure was 4.30 pm. So always remember to check you travelplan
Sunday june 6th
This is the day where you have to find out where you are and why. So I walked a lot around the town. To a place called Granville Island - some kind of recreativ area - which only North Americans can enjoy - with the Aquabus crossing False Creek to Downtown - look around a little - then to Stanley Park - and a nice little walk along the bay - around 7 miles or so.
Monday june 7th
Back to Downtown - and look at the highly overrated Canada Place, where all the ships for Alaska docks. And of course it started raining cats and dogs, so I went to a coffeeshop, where I for the first time discovered the new northamerican coffee-trend. It wouldn't be the last time. A cup of coffee is not just a cup of coffee around here - oh no - nowadays you have to answer at least 8 different questions before you actually get just the right cup of coffee - and of course they then put it all into some kind of plastic-cup!!!
But the coffee was GREAT - so while enjoying it I wonder how to spend some rainy hours in Vancouver. The answer i simple - STARWARS - into the movies and watch the new Starwars-film, which havent reached Denmark yet.
Leaving the movie-theater everything is nice again - the weather has changed dramatically - so now you can really enjoy your life as a tourist. I go to the towns "viewpoint" - Harbour Centre Tower - and a viw it was.
From here to Gastown - a very much tourist-area with lots of cafe's, restaurants, a steaming-clock etc.
And a little shopping at Nevada Bob. Gets myself a nice pair of Nike golfshoes. Very cheap compared to Denmark.
Tuesday june 8'th
Time for the first trip away from Vancouver with Pacific Coach Line to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Especially the boat-trip to the island is nice. Victoria was a nice place. But keep away from the tourist-traps.
I went for a walk in the very nice Beacon Hill Park, where I was close to being run over by the local police on horseback, which suddenly came across the park. Found the wolds tallest totempole - it was told. Nice walk along the beach in in the town. Into Starbucks to get the tallest cup of coffee I have ever seen - and that is for sure!. From there to Craigdarroch Castle, which was imported from Scotland by some lunatic. The castle was closed for visitors when I arrived - but of course the "gift-shop" was still open.
And finally by bus - boat - bus back to Vancouver. The boat-trip back home was even more impressing.
Wednesday june 9'th
Today I take the no 250 to Lighthouse Park. Off we go - suddenly the driver stops and shouts "Lighthouse Park" - didn't we have someone who wanted to get out here?. Bingo - off the bus - and into the park, which back home more would be considered a forest with plenty of very old trees.
A find a map with some walking-trip-suggestions. And start on what the describe as "the medium hard walk" - with a few places that would be hard to pass. Here you have to notice that when americans - and I should find out also canadians - write these things, they actually mean it!. It did get through, and somehow I got back to my starting-point.
Back with the bus from the local bus-stop. By the way a pretty interesting bus-stop. You know the bus would be there once each hour - but at what time?. They don't tell you that. As a public-transport person I'm not impressed.
Back to the best place in town Stanley Park (which is huge) - and into Vancouver Aquarium to watch Orcas (killer-whales) and more strange things.
Thursday june 10'th
Today with Greyhound-bus to Whistler for a day-trip. Whistler is a ski-resort, where they for instance host the world cup downhill. Arriving in Whistler - arrrghhh - tourist-trap. Awful town, with "authentic" cottages, McDonalds and Kentucky Chicken.
Leaving Whistler Village as soon as possible and go for a long walk in the valley surounding the town. There are great views across the mountains. And some very nice golf-courses. Now you can enjoy it. Spend the rest of the day in the valley, before I take the bus back to Vancouver in the evening. The bus-ride - by the way - was also very nice
Back at the hotel, where for the first time there are no clouds on the sky. That gave this nice picture of the sunset.
Friday june 11'th
This is the first day of this trip with really nice weather. So I start the day by visiting a nice beach around Vancouver, called the Kitsilano Beach Park. Great view across to Downtown. From Kitsilano Beach Park there's a nice walk along the bay to Vanier Park and Granville Island.
And since the clouds have gone its time to go to the top of the mountain in the background of the picture. It's called Grouse Mountain - rises about 3500 feet - and the trip there is with the Seabus to North Vancouver, then by bus, and finally by "skyway" to the top. At the top there was still snow.
As usual on this kind of places - a great viw. But that was also the only thing about it.
Down again - and back to Vancouver on the Seabus
Saturday june 12'th
Sunday june 13'th
Today only one thing - with Quick Coach Lines to Seattle
Monday june 14'th
Laundry-time - Lonely Planet recommends a laundry close to the hotel called "sit-and-spin". I find it. Weird place. Laundry, Cafe and a gallery at the same shop. Going to the bar and ask for a packege of Tide is a bit unusual.
Sightseeing the rest of the day - among it Pioneer Square
Tuesday june 15'th
The hotel is a bit strange. For instance the breakfast-restaurant is always closed when I arrive. I wonder if I sleep to much?. Well - nothing to do about that - instead I find one of the enormous amont of coffee-bars - this time called Tully's. Another franchise with great coffee and great bagels. I live close to Belltown, which is (or was) some kind of artist-quarter. They say that this was where Nirvana hanged around until they got famous. The garbage-cans is a bit weird as well.
After "breakfast" its time for another classic when visiting places. A visit to the local zoo - better known as Woodland Park Zoo. This one is just like such places - but I think its great fun - just annoying with all the kids hanging around.
After the zoo its time for a long walk around the nearby lake called Green Lake. Very nice place - but you feel a little strange just walking. Most people put something under their feet - skateboards, in-liners, rollerskates - whatever.
I have allied myself with a map of the local busrouts, so I look around for a bus back to downtown. But what you are unable to see on a map like this, you cant see if you are going up or down. So the bus I pick is about 1 mile of walk away - but I cant see that it's 1 mile uphill - and talking uphill in Seattle you mean uphill!! - pretty tough ride there.
Im pretty active today, so in the evening I take the monorail to Space Needle, which is a famous tower in Seattle.
Actually this tower fits good to Seattle as a high-tech city. Microsoft has got its headquarters around here, and there are plenty of computer-business around. Nintendo is also somewhere around here. And Amazon.com.
Wednesday june 16'th
Today I take the bus to Gasworks Park - a strange place build on an a ground where they used to produce gas. The old gaswork is still there - graffitti all over - and it looks almost ready for take-off.
There are very few people in the park this morning. One is flying a model-plane - and a young couple read poetry to each other - weird.
From Gasworks Park I go to a funny neighbourhood called Fremont. In the local tourist-guide they write.
"Fremont is sitting on top of a huge natural reservoir holding the largest proven beer reserves in the world"
Downtown Seattle So you can choose to believe it or not - but the place is not normal. Whereelse would you find a one-eyed troll under a freeway-bridge eating a volkswagon?? - no you wouldnt!!
In Freemont I find an Internet-cafe. I just have to check if my danish soccer-team AaB has won the championship. Actually Im on their internet-site in the same moment, as the last game finishes. We loose that one - but we won the championship the week before.
So in a very good mood I return to downtown, where I take the ferry to Bainbridge Island - mainly to see Seattle from Elliott Bay.
Thursday june 17th
Time for another bus-trip. I get picked up early in the morning at the hotel by Scenic Bound Tours. They take me to Mt. Rainier National Park - a very nice national-park about 100 miles south of Seattle, with a huge mountain - actually a vulcano - which surprisingly is called............Mt. Rainier.
Not a lot of people on the bus - 6 in all - and the driver - a former methodist-priest, now a tourist-guide. He is a good story-teller about the mountain and the park. He is especially happy to talk about climbing the mountain. About 10-15 people do it every day. Next year its time for the driver to try. By the way the mountain is 14.411 feet high.
As it offen happen in these small groups it getw very cozy. Especially a retired farmer from Ohio can keep the good spirit going with a number of questions and comments. That eventhough he is pretty hard to understand while he is always close to loosing his artificial teeth, everytime he says something. So it turns out to be a very funny day. The weather was absolutely fantastic- which means no clouds. So you could actually see the mountain!. And the clou of the day was when suddenly a wild bear was standing on the road -not even the driver had experienced that before.
Friday june 18th
Today I find the breakfast-restaurant open for the first time. So what's more natural than eating breakfast her. But some special kind of breakfast it will be. One waitres - she seems pretty stoned - running around in the restaurant, loosing most of the things she is carrying. And in the kitchen it doesn't seem better. The "chef" spends about an hour making 2 slices of bacon, 2 eggs and the usual "hashbrowns". No wonder its always closed....
Then by bus to Ballard - a pretty scandinivian neighbourhood. Here you find the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (no less) which is the locks that connects Puget Sound and Lake Washington via the Lake Washington Ship Canal. There are plenty of boats around here passing through - and quite a lot of tourists watching. This mix makes it quite fascinating, bacause a lot of the sailors seems less experienced, and a little nervous about the crowd watching.
There is also an impressive "fishladder" used by the fish to get up into the lake.
Later I visit Seattles Broadway - very lively as well - and very alternative. You are very much "out" when you have no piercings and no tattoos.
Saturday june 19'th
Just down the road from the hotel is the Pike Place Market. Here you can buy everthing - I think. A lot is going on a saturday morning like this.
Then another walk along the harbourfront of Seattle. Here you can buy all tourist-junk imaginable. The place doesnt get more charming by the fact that they have built a freeway on the 2'nd floor so to say - above the harbour - so you can hardly hear what you are thinking.
So instead of wasting my time here I take a bus to Washington Park Arboretum. A nice park beside Union Bay, and at the bay it almost looks like marshland. At least the pathways are very wet. You can almost walk on the water. Very charming spot - but again - a freeway on the 2.nd floor. Is anyone in this place thinking????
From here by bus back to downtown - when I find the bus. Bacause my busstop is closed because of roadwork - and when I finally find one where there are actually busses arriving - yes -then the bus take me in the wrong direction. Finally I change to one that will take me downtown.
Sunday june 20th
Monday june 21st
If I have to be totally honest Im getting a little tired of playing a tourist. So today - no sights - just a stroll around town - a movie - The Presidents Daughtre (John Travolta - pretty boring). A little shopping, t-shirts, Starwars-lego etc, - a coffeebar - another coffeebar and so.....
Tuesday june 22nd
Going back home today - and for the first time the legendary Seattle-fog from the morning (or almost morning that is).
I spent the day watching an IMAX-movie (where you feel you are almost there) of a local vulcano Mount St. Helens, which exploded some 20 years ago. And then the last cup of coffee at my local favourite-coffee-bar. Now they recognice me, and says nicely hello to you.
Get my luggage at the hotel, finds the bus to the airport. British Airways is on time - this time I was as well!. A boring flight to London Heathrow - a bus to Gatwick. Here I have to wait 6 hours for my Billund-plane. But Im in Gatwick before my schedule, so a very nice man in the check-in counter, gets me on an earlier flight to Billund (eventhough my discount-ticket doesnt allow flight-changes). So just a little shopping in the airport, before my Maersk-air flight to Billund leaves.
In Billund late afternoon (wednesday afternoon that is). Wait for no. 44, which takes me and my luggage back to my home in Vejle.
That's it folks....
But I reached the plane anyway - luckily
Then onto a full jumbo-jet to Vancouver. During the trip I spoke with an elderly pair from South Africa -very nice people.
Arriving in Vancouver - pretty tired - get a taxi - in to Shaughnessy Village - ny hotel booked pr. phone from back home. It was a pretty nice and cheap place to stay. Very small room, but your own bath, tv and a microwave!
Checkin in at the hotel and to my room at 7.th floor - with a view across Downtown Vancouver - and what a view it was!
And then to bed....
Last day in Vancouver. I spend it in Downtown. First a trip to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Classical Chinese Garden (none the less), where an annoying guide is showing around. Almost all of her audience just "disappears" from her and her stories. Surprisingly the garden is placed in Chinatown - and all the shops around has a strange smell - strange spices and so. But there are a lot of chinese people that actually buy the shit.
Back to Robson street - the shopping-street - buy some souvenirs - and another nice cup of coffee at Starbucks.
The States started off with something as extraordinary as a funny man in the customs. He wanted to confiscate the childrens Starwars-things, since they were "illegal aliens".
Well - on the bus to Seattle a little more then 100 miles south from Vancouver. In Seattle I had booked a room at the Moore Hotel - a cheap hotel right in Downtown. Nice hotel -and again - room with a view - this time Elliott Bay
I spend the rest of this day finding how Seattle is working.
Now and then you have to do something not typical for tourists. Why not go to the races??!. I take the local pony-expres (which is a bus) to Emerald Downs the local race-course. Unfortunately the weather is bad - light showers all day. But what the hell - its quite fun watching the horses with their small mexican jockeys on their backs.
You bet almost like in Denmark, so thats pretty easy to find out about. I win in the first race, so I think that I might finance the whole trip this afternoon. But of course - its the only win on that day.