August of 2016 saw me visiting Canada for the first time and nearly made me swear off visiting the country ever again.
I have to partly blame myself as I had very high expectations cultivated from reading too much pro-Canada travel articles and watching too much of Simon and Martina’s vlogs.
I’ve heard so much about the vaunted politeness of Canadians and how beautiful Vancouver is, so with high expectations, I organized my vow renewal ceremony in its city. The moment we arrived late in the evening at the hotel, we were met with a very rude reception staff . I thought that was a once-off only to encounter the same half of the time with people in the service industry. Passengers in the bus from Grouse Mountain exchanged looks when the bus driver started yelling at everyone. I lost my temper with an Air Canada airport staff and have until now refused to ride its planes.
It was a daily cycle. We had rude encounters one day, then perfectly charming encounters the next day. I didn’t even experience such level of surliness in Paris, on the contrary, I had the most marvelous times in the city famous for their abrupt attitude. Then again, I expected Parisians to behave that way and was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.
On the days when everything was great, we did enjoy ourselves. Our vow renewal ceremony went off without a hitch at the Rose Garden, despite the heavy traffic around Stanley Park. A car collided with a trolley bus which caused more traffic. Our limo driver had to ask to squeeze through so he could take us to the venue on time. He was so nervous while we were just chilling in the back, we had to tell him to relax. The people at the Chapel Group, made the ceremony moving and unforgettable.
The Rose Garden was in full bloom that time. I was glad we chose the latticed portion of the garden since there were many animal droppings on the hilly portion of the garden. The other parts of Stanley Park was great for walking, biking, skating, and just plain idling around.
Granville Island had an interesting collection of artisan products and fresh produce. It’s a great place to sit back and watch the sea. From Granville Island, we took one of those water taxis to get to the other side and explore Stanley Park (this was before the day of the ceremony). We promptly found ourselves battling through a crowd and realized it was the Pride Parade.
Confetti, banners, energetic dancers, enthusiastic parade watchers, water guns, thumping music, and the acrid smell of marijuana filled the streets and the air. It was a long walk to Stanley Park that day but we had fun walking the leafy back streets of Vancouver.
The other place that I enjoyed visiting was Van Dusen Park. The place had many areas, we weren’t able to explore all of them. We could’ve walked the entire day but we only had a few hours to spare.
Another place to visit for peace and tranquility was the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Garden in Chinatown. The garden is small but they have a relatively big pond where fat kois live. We were able to visit in time to witness the feeding of the fishes. We joined the short tour to learn more about the place. The stones, we were told were shipped from China to Vancouver, when exporting them were still not prohibited.
Getting around Vancouver via public transport was easy. They had a well-functioning bus and train system and a fare card, called a Day Pass, that could be used in any of their public transit system. We bought our cards from London Drugs, similar to Walgreens in the US, and kept topping them up each day. Going to and from the airport was a breeze because we didn’t have a lot of luggage to drag around. We took a cab from the airport and took the Sky Train on the way. Funny thing about taxis, there weren’t a lot of them in the city itself. We were hoping to use Uber or Lyft but the ride-sharing app wasn’t available. Even today, I don’t think it’s available.