Vancouver Travel Blog› entry 122 of 167 › view all entries
By driving this morning to Stanley Park, across the Lionsgate Bridge, we could find a place to park the rig near the rose garden to hop on a tour bus. The hop-on-hop-off trolley provided live commentary and went by many of the places that we could never see if driving ourselves.
We hopped off in Chinatown (alas, we forgot out "critical info" paper with our friend's phone number on it) and had lunch in "the largest restaurant in the world" or something like that. It sat 1000 people! The Floata Restaurant's Chinese dim sum and sticky rice dishes were delicious!
At first, we were the only non-Chinese people in the entire place and I had a brief glimpse into Lia's everyday world. Fortunately, we knew that although we might be a curiousity, Chinese people we've met have always been kind and hospitable.
Then we had a "cultural experience." The bus driver had clearly told us when we hopped off in Chinatown that we were NOT to walk to Gastown, due to "a few blocks" along the way that were inadvisable. At map check showed it was just a few blocks from where we were (where we felt perfectly comfortable), but I decided that we should heed his pointed advice.
Unfortunately, we got turned around and walked right into the "inadvisable" area. The kids knew we were in the bad place before I did- I was trying to pinpoint our location on the map.
As part of their cultural experience, the kids got to witness a drug transaction, homeless people on the street pushing grocery carts of belongings, cussing, and people with obvious mental issues. It was a whole new situation! We did a U-turn when I figured it out and identified the correct trolley pickup location a few blocks over. We enjoyed the rest of the tour from the trolley!
We also agreed on a "code word" for getting out of an area when it is obviously past tiime to go. Saying the code word twice means "Let's leave NOW!" I'm glad I could provide that learning experience. I had a "stay away from drugs or that could be you" speech ready to go thereafter. :)
Driving back across Lionsgate Bridge was also an experience. Stanley Park had no exit signs and dumped us out on a busy road going the wrong direction. Sallie, the GPS, got us looped back around and we eventually got over the bridge. We were really, really happy we took the trolley around Vancouver.
Vancouver is gorgeous, sparkling, filled with amazing architecture and city-pride. The construction downtown is in preparation for the 2010 Olympics and a result of a robust economy. If I had to choose a city in which to live, Vancouver would definitely be at the top of the list.