Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We made it to Vancouver! We stayed up all night on the 3rd packing up the bikes and our gear. The whole packing the bikes thing took a lot longer than we anticipated and we finished up just in time to cram the bikes into Arik's mom's car and head out to the airport at 3:30am.

Sleepy at the airport

Got everything checked in pretty easily. We flew into Denver first and tried to catch a little sleep- the view when we landed was really beautiful- lotsa sun and mountains. The flight to Vancouver was nice and uneventful too- we slept for most of the 3 hours, but woke up in time to see the biggest mountains we've ever seen out the windows at cruising altitude. They were huge! Landed, went through customs, got our pepper spray confiscated- doh!

We found a little alcove in the airport to assemble our bikes. We lost an unessential screw somewhere along the way, but otherwise everything came through perfectly and we had our bikes assembled in about an hour and a half. We'd initially planned on walking with the bike boxes to a fedex to ship them back home, but decided it would be more trouble than it was worth. We abandoned the boxes at the airport and will have to get new ones in San Diego. Here are the lonesome looking boxes as we exited the airport:

Sad bike boxes

We loaded up the bikes, hopped on, and headed to Vancouver! The supposedly bike friendly directions we got from the Vancouver website were not so bike friendly! There were bike lanes most of the way, but the ride across the Arthur Laing Bridge to take us into Vancouver proper was pretty harrowing. The bike lane was really narrow and tons of cars whooshed by. Not fun at all. After that it was pretty nice though- low traffic streets with bike lanes. We drove over the Cambie Bridge to take us into downtown and snapped a few nice pix. The city is like nothing we've ever seen- mountains and water and really unique architecture.

Ready to leave the airport

On the Cambie Bridge

On the Cambie Bridge going into downtown Vancouver

We pulled up to the Vancouver YWCA Hotel and got checked in. It's a nice, cheap, no-frills place located right in the middle of downtown. The only semi-downside is that we share a toilet/shower with one other room. I don't know why but it's a bit weird and we actually think a hall bath woulda been better. Here's the view from our room:

Hotel view

We headed to Gorilla Foods for lunch and had some tasty raw eats:

At Gorilla Foods

Then back to the hotel for some much needed shut-eye! We woke up starving after our nap and decided to check out Chinatown. Vancouver has the second biggest Chinatown in the world (after San Fran) so we figured we'd have good luck finding some authentic treats. We got there around 8pm and found it totally abandoned but for a few muttering bums. Not quite what we expected! We went with plan 2, which was checking out Gastown, an up and coming neighborhood north of Chinatown. We picked a bad route to get into Gastown and ended up on some of the scariest streets we've seen- just a lot of scary peeps and abandoned buildings. We hustled out of there and back to the hotel to get some Italian food recommendations. The kind lady at the front desk suggested a place in Gastown. She told us "now the problem with this one is you're gonna want to take the Skytrain, because if you try to walk there..." We laughed and told her we knew what she was talking about. Too bad we didn't consult with her before our misadventure! We nixed Gastown, so she suggested 2 places in Yaletown, a kinda fancy 'hood close to the hotel. Alas both were a bit too fancy/pricey for our sandal-wearin' selves. By this time we were desperate for anything to eat so we hit up trust old 7-11 for some fine cuisine. We got some ramen noodles, Gatorade and a delishus Cherry Dr. Pepper slurpee. The slurpee tasted like heaven and tided us over till we made it to the hotel. Once there, we picked up our plates and forks in the room and headed to the hotel kitchen, hopeful there would be pots to use. Alas we were out of luck- you had to bring your own stuff. We would have probably ended up frothing and delirious in our room if not for a kind woman from Holland who offered to let us borrow her pot. We chatted a bit with her and her friend whilst the water boiled and then sat down at last to dinner. Yum!

Abandoned Chintown

Today we woke up well-rested and after hanging out a bit in the room, we ventured across the Cambie Bridge to eat and run some errands. We ate at a great fast-foodish place called Everybody Loves Veggies- and if everybody ate there, everybody probably would! It was supa tasty and we took some extra sandwiches to go. Then went to a pretty famous REI-type place called Mountain Equipment Co-op. We bought some bike helmet mirrors (after the bridge escapade we decided these were necessary), a camp pot (we won't get caught off guard again!), and some odds and ends. Picked up some clementines at an Asian produce place, then stopped by Whole Foods for some oatmeal and a delishus mango gelato.

Headed back to the hotel, put the photos we've taken so far on the flash drive, and hit up the Vancouver Public Library to try to update the blog and post some pix. Alas we only got about 20 minutes worth of internet time before a library member reserved it, but were able to sign up for wireless access and would come back later with the laptop.

In the meantime, we stopped by a bike shop where Arik got the missing screw replaced. Then we went on an awesome bike ride around Stanley Park north of downtown. It has water on 3 sides and stunning views of the mountains and the ocean. Here are some pix:

Our bikes, who we've christened Koonta and Dora

Tonight we might go watch a movie at a cool theater here- not sure. Then we'll head out early tomorrow morning to continue the adventure!

Be well,

Arik and Mia