Vancouver, 11-March 2015

Each year, Melody and I try to take a train trip to either Portland, OR or Vancouver, BC, since Amtrak offers coupons for reduced-price tickets. This year we went across the border for a few nights, and even fit in a quick walking tour after we got into town.

The train we took left Seattle at 7:45am, so we got off a bit early to catch the commuter bus down to the King Street Station, arriving early enough that they weren't handing out seat assignments yet. After they did begin, we got up to the counter and the conductor said that the train was going to be so empty they were just handing out car assignments and people were free to move around as they wanted. Sure enough, there were about 35 passengers on the whole train.

Last time we went to Vancouver, the part of the tracks were washed out, so they put us on busses for part of the way, then the train we eventually got on had wheel problems so it could only go about 30mph, so we got back onto busses at Bellingham. This time, the trip was uneventful and we had great views on the way up.

After we crossed the Canadian border, we started to get some drizzle, but it stayed relatively light. After getting off the train, it was a quick trip through customs (it helped there were so few people on the train), about a block to the Skytrain station, and once we got off at the next stop, only a couple blocks to where we were staying. Since we were there before they had a room ready for us, the woman decided to just upgrade us so we could go directly to the room. That was really nice, since originally we were going to have a room with a restroom down the hall, but we ended up with one with two double beds and a private bath.

We were ready for lunch, so we made a quick stop at a 7-Eleven to get a book of bus tokens and some cash, then we hopped onto a bus to Granville Island. We had gotten pot pies last time we were there, and since we were starting to get hungry, we went with what we knew. Both the smoked salmon chowder and the mushroom pot pie were really good.

Fueled up, we walked along the seawall on the south side of False Creek. We had also done this path a couple years ago, but were using a different walking tour book, so there were some different things pointed out. As we went under the Burrard Bridge, we recalled how there was construction and some netting to prevent things from falling onto the path. The construction was all gone this time.

Our destination was the Vancouver Maritime Museum, which was closed the last time we were in the area. The museum has two parts, one a normal-looking building with most of the exhibits, and the other a huge A-frame building which houses the RCMP St. Roch), a schooner which was the first ship to completely circumnavigate North America. We started our visit on that side of the museum; after watching a short film, the group was allowed aboard, where we were free to roam about a lot of the ship. Afterwards, we went down to the drydock area underneath where we could look at the hull.

Having looked at the St. Roch from all around, we strolled through the other exhibits. We were amused there was one section dedicated to ships named Vancouver. They also had various model ships, including ones built by prisoners (one was built of bones saved from meals).

After leaving the Maritime Museum, we looked at the historic ships nearby. The ships are private, so you can't board them, but there are signs which describe them. At this point, it was starting to sprinkle, so we didn't linger too long. We walked over to the Space Centre to look at the crab sculpture at the front. By this point we were ready to head back, so we went to the bus stop back to our room.

We rested for a bit, then went out to find dinner. We ended up eating at a ramen shop, where I had shio ramen and Melody had ramen with won ton in it. The place was very busy, and all the women working there chattered away in Japanese, to each other and to greet people coming in. We must have hit the tail end of the dinner crowd, because by the time we were leaving the place was mostly empty.

Next on the list was to find some dessert. We saw a gelato place on the map, but as we walked by, we couldn't find it; perhaps it had closed. We then thought we would go to a grocery store, and saw one across the street. We picked up breakfast food, as well as dessert, and on the way back to the room stepped quickly into the Vancouver Public Library to check out what food places they had there for future reference. Then, back to the room to eat dessert and call it a night.