Date :24th December, 2017
Place : Stanley Park
Hop On-Hop Off bus system is an easy city tour which gives us a pretty thorough tour of downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park. It usually takes one day but since it was holiday season it took us two days for the whole tour. We had to buy the tickets and catch the bus from Canada Place. It was quite jostled as all other vehicles clamoured up and a constant commentary was going on. Even the bus drivers, having been giving these tours for a long time, animatedly threw in a few tid bits about the city. It is a pretty good way for tourists to explore the city.
The Vancouver aquarium was one of the first places we visited. Ever since I had heard that there was an aquarium in the city, I had been dying to go to it. So, when the driver announced the stop for the aquarium, I shot out of my seat faster than a bullet from a gun. The tickets costed over a hundred dollars which was something that we were a bit apprehensive of but one look at the aquarium and we knew that it was worth it. We saw many different and exotic species of aquatic creatures. Dolphins, sea lions, sea otters, seahorses, water snakes, frogs, piranhas, jellyfish, sea cucumbers, sea anemones, eels, scorpions… you name it and it was there.
The dolphins were kept in a large pool where they were impressing the crowd with some fine flips. We were told that there were two dolphins but we saw only one of them. Sea lions were also swimming around. There were two of them and they both seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The sea-otters were the most adorable, swimming on their backs and playing with a plastic ball. The way they were playing reminded me of my cat, Mishti, which could have triggered my fondness for these creatures.
The most fascinating creatures were the jellyfish. They were luminous, which caused their tank to glow brighter. We stood there for a long time, just looking at them in appreciation. Another kind of jellyfish had long tentacles. Apart from them, the snakes stole my attention. Some were sleeping and the others that were awake just stared at the passerby’s with their unblinking eyes. One tank housed a snake and a frog, with neither disturbing the other.
A volunteer was telling us about the creatures in the aquarium. We started talking to her and we could tell by the way she spoke about the creatures, she really loved animals. She assumed that I was a university student because I was wearing an Oxford hoodie, and that was pretty embarrassing.
After the trip to the aquarium we roamed around in Stanley Park for some time. Did I mention that the aquarium is in Stanley Park?
We saw a huge black squirrel and tried to take a picture of it but the little guy was too fast for us. We walked all the way to the next point and saw the Hop On – Hop Off just about to leave. We rushed onto the bus. The driver was nice enough to wait for us. These bus drivers are great professionals. They are not simply the men behind steering, but possessed immense knowledge of the city and its history. They were funny and quite willing to help.
Till the time we had to stay put inside the bus, we let the nature outside slide by with every rotate of the wheel. Many sites passed in front of us but the one that I found most interesting was a sculpture called ‘Girl in the Wetsuit’. It depicted a girl sitting on a rock in a wetsuit in the middle of water, which is said to be quite similar to the sculpture of ‘The Little Mermaid’ in Copenhagen, Denmark. The live commentary informed us that the sculpture was often “dressed” up throughout different times of the year. I expected to see it dressed up festively, as it was Christmas season but unfortunately it wasn’t.
Next, we stopped at Prospect Point. This was at a high altitude. It gave us an incredible view of the city. We could see the cars moving on the Lions Gate Bridge, the city and its people reduced to the size of tiny ants. Breathtaking! We spent quite some time there, just absorbing the view, capturing it in our memories forever. Lunch was at the restaurant at Prospect Point.
Papa wanted to go back to the town and get some Indian food but we were in the mood to experiment. I ordered poutine, which is a famous dish in Canada and my mom ordered a caesar salad. Both of them were good and although Papa will never admit it, I know that he liked them too.
After a long wait, we boarded the bus for the final ride that day. We didn’t want to explore any more as it was starting to get dark. The bus driver in this bus was an old man. He was ruefully telling us how, due to his late shift, he wouldn’t be able to get a holiday discount at his local pub since it was available only for a certain time period!
And with that, day one of our Vancouver darshan ended.
Date : 26th December, 2017
The second day we continued with the tour of the city and once again, ended up at Stanley Park. This time we went to see the Totem Poles. All of them were unique in their own way and each one of them had a board in front which displayed all the information, the history and what each is supposed to symbolise. We had a fun time, learning something new from different cultures while almost tripping and falling into a frozen brooke!
Next we entered a vast field which was partially covered in snow. It was a golden opportunity for us to take as many photographs as we could. We tried our best to strike aesthetic poses so the images came out really pleasant. The numerous tall, evergreen trees provided for our perfect background.
English Bay Beach, located in downtown Vancouver is the most populated beach area and was unlike any other beach I had ever visited. The beaches we had been to always had cool water, which provided and the desired calm on a hot summer day. This beach had freezing cold water. There were several huge logs placed horizontally which were meant to be resting benches for visitors. The shells we found there were unique. Mostly purple in colour, they looked like broken pieces of oysters. We actually found an oyster, but it was empty.
As we were walking back to the place where the bus waited for us, I saw a person taking his dog out for a walk. I smiled at the dog, because I love dogs; it immediately started barking at me. Its owner was very embarrassed and kept apologizing. I just don’t understand why all the dogs I’ve ever met never seem to like me!
We stood outside the aquatic centre for some time. This is a really huge pool and a gym. The salty smell of chlorine wafted towards us, every time the door of the aquatic centre opened, luring us inside to inquire. We found out that we could swim once if we wanted but we must have our own swimming suits. I hadn’t brought mine since I had not expected to swim in Vancouver but Papa had. Pretty soon he made up his mind that he would swim there whenever he finds some.
We went to have lunch at Mc.Donalds. The interesting thing about the Mc.Donalds’ in Canada is that the normal ‘M’ symbol has a maple leaf on it, which is also on the Canadian flag. I find it amazing, how Canadians find such simple ways to express love and pride for their country.