Friday, 31 August 2007


Yes, I'm finally back from my travels with Jenny in Western Canada. Mainly we were in Vancouver, which is every bit as spectacular as people told us. Definitely the equal of Sydney in terms of the setting - on a huge river estuary with four massive mountain ridges directly opposite. Not only that but the city has an enormous wooded park (Stanley Park) the size of the city centre on a peninsular jutting out into the estuary. We were just stunned by the unbelievable beauty of it all.

Of course there were one or two flies in the ointment - no city's that perfect - so here are the pros and cons. The pros: the sensational setting; a city centre small enough to walk around; the cultural diversity (a lot of Asians and gays in particular); a great sense of vitality and creativity; Starbucks' unbeatable coffee and pastries; a superb mega-bookstore, Chapters; Stanley Park; and the vertiginous cable car ride up Grouse Mountain.

The cons: limited eating-out possibilities - a complete lack of vegetarian or Italian restaurants, but plenty of junk food like hot dog stalls; a slight frostiness from the locals towards non-locals - maybe because we English are associated with the often detested Americans; and the way so many beautiful old traditional houses had been cleared for skyscrapers and apartment blocks. But that's not much to complain about.

We also spent a few days in Victoria on Vancouver Island, which we definitely wouldn't recommend - completely overwhelmed by tourists and decrepit oldies who could hardly stagger down the streets. A sort of giant old folks home with a seaview. The one unexpected highlight was a brilliant exhibition on (of all things!) the sinking of the Titanic at the British Columbia Museum.

To wind up, we spent two days on the train that goes right through the Rocky Mountains from Vancouver to Calgary. Another amazing experience. But more about that in the next instalment....

PS: My suitcase got lost somewhere between Calgary and Belfast. Will I ever see it again? And it contained some lovely clothes Jenny bought in Calgary!! Fingers crossed it's not too far away....


  1. So glad you and Jenny enjoyed The Western side of Canada, Nick. But you just have to come back and do the Maritimes for the drop-dead beauty and warmth of the people. I agree with you on the populace of BC - quite chilly. But in my mind the beauty of the East has them beaten in that department too.....

  2. Well, Jenny and I have been to Toronto and Quebec City but the people there were a bit stand-offish as well. Which parts of the Maritimes would you recommend (apart from Newfoundland of course!)?

  3. Welcome back Nick, I am happy to hear you had a good time. Thanks for sharing the pros and cons as you observed. I never made it to the British Columbia while I was living in Canada as student exchange, but heard great things about Vancouver and surrounding areas. Do you need now another short vacation to recover from your vacation or are you all energized up?

  4. Oh, and I hope the lost luggage turns up soon!

  5. hey welcome back! sounds like a wonderful trip, love the photo on your entry. Such a lovely blue...

    PS hope your lost luggage comes home soon!

  6. Sounds like a good trip. Suprised you couldn't find vegetarian cuisine there since BC is known for its hippies. My experience is that Canada is full of Anglophiles and yes, do they generally have an antagonism towards the U.S. (I don't blame them especially when shrub was just here claiming the Artic).

  7. Wow, what a warm welcome back - thank ye all! Lost luggage turned up this morning and was delivered to our doorstep - phew! We've actually been v lucky, in 15 years of travelling around the world we hadn't lost a single thing, so I guess it's the exception that proves the rule.

    I'm completely energised, Gaye, (apart from a long sleep after being up for 32 hours on return journey) but I wouldn't say no to another trip!

    Yes, lack of veggie food surprised us too, Medbh. We tried what appeared to be a promising Italian cafe in Vancouver but it was dire - the worst plate of pasta we have ever been fed, straight out of a tin probably.

    Am off to London again on Monday for a work thing and visit to my mother, with crippling Underground strikes on the cards. Sounds like getting across Stab City may be trickier than getting to Vancouver....

  8. hi nick,
    am sitting in Future Shop on Granville in Vancouver as I type!
    We were going to visit Victoria but won't bother now - sorry to hear about your luggage
    Bellulah x

  9. Hi Bel. We kept planning to visit Granville Island but somehow never got there. Glad I steered you away from Victoria. Hope to hear more about your travels sometime. Nick x