Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Alaska: Hello Vancouver (Get us off this thing)

After one more full day at sea we finally landed in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada). Unfortunately we had some issues docking and were not able to disembark on time. We both stared longingly at Canada Place, a mere 10 feet away. Folks on shore were dressed in red and white to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada's Independence. We were getting off the boat at Ground Zero of the festivities.

Disembarkment was suboptimal. We were led to the baggage claim area where bags from the same departure group were to be grouped together. Nope. Time to go hunting. Once we found our bags the terminal was a sea of people. More than one ship was in port which meant 1,000s were getting off ships and 1,000s were getting onto those same ships. To make matters worse about 1/2 of Vancouver was at Canada Place for the festivities. We were at a different hotel than our friends because we used hotel points to get a free stay. We figured we'd cab it but the line was horrendous. We hoofed it with our large suitcase, newly purchased carry-on, and dense backpacks.

After check-in we met the rest of the crew for lunch at Steamworks Brewery in the Gastown area. Thankfully the weather was nice and we could enjoy the patio vs eating inside. After lunch we walked to Stanley Park, the city's largest park. To get there we walked along the waterfront, which on a normal day would be fine, but with today being Canada Day we were dodging and weaving through walls of people enjoying the beautiful Saturday. Along the way we stopped at Canada Place to check out the Olympic Torch.

Stanley Park is huge. From one side you can get some great skyline views of downtown, and then turn a corner and you are in the middle of the woods. We decided to check out the Totem Pole Garden and The Rose Garden.

Our group left the park and headed back downtown. The others were not able to check into their hotel earlier so while they took care of that we decided to check out the street festival on Robson Street, the city's shopping district. The party did not live up to the hype of the brochure. We saw a street hockey game and one band. With dinner time approaching we headed towards our restaurant and found a decent (and uncrowded) beer bar. Vancouver had an excellent beer scene - it was hard to find Molson or Labatts on tap because they featured so many craft beers. The rest of our crew joined us at The Butcher and the Bullock for a drink before heading to dinner at Nightingale. Dinner was excellent! We had a great waiter that helped us choose the right craft cocktails, appetizers, and wood fired pizzas.

After dinner we said goodbye to Laura and Lee - they were leaving for home the next morning. We walked back to our hotel, had a drink at the bar and chatted with a man from California, then planned our next few days in town.

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