We explored many places in Vancouver. But no matter where we went, our day always began at Canada Place and ended at the same point. Canada Place is located in Downtown Vancouver and I don’t exactly know what it is, but we took the Hop On Hop Off bus for Capilano Bridge from there. It’s basically a tourist destination. There is a big mural in front which reads “CANADA 150,” erected to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada.
Date: 23rd December, 2017
Place: Canada Place
We have arrived at Canada Place. I can see a Christmas celebration going on. Mouth-watering food and candies are being sold. We are exploring around happily. Here’s a Santa Claus hugging all the kids around, whoever walks up to him. As I reach out to him to get a hug, I can’t stop the smile that’s forming on my face. As he waves me off, he says, “Be good this year!” A number of animatronic figures are kept behind a glass, each depicting a different scene from some Christmas fable. One shows Santa’s elves working in the factory packing children’s gifts. Another has Santa on his sledge with a dozen gifts in his bag. Yet another depicts a family opening presents on Christmas morning. There are many more. Describing them all would take a full chapter.
We learn that they are called Woodward’s Windows.
We walk towards a nearby food court. There are many different options to choose from. I choose to buy pizza from a place called ‘The Flying Wedge’. It is quite different from any pizza I have tasted before. It’s one huge slice of a huge pizza. I was already thinking that this is a great option for those who want to try different flavours at a time. Mumma got some nachos and papa got a shawarma which was again, different from the shawarma we get in Mumbai. In Mumbai, they put together all the ingredients and give it to you. In Vancouver, all the fillings and the pita bread are given separately. Its upto you to arrange things the way you wish.
After lunch, I head towards a store to buy a bottle of water. That store has many different things like magazines, chocolates, fridge magnets, different cold drinks and small mementoes for tourists. I buy the bottle of water and a few chocolates. As I walk out, I spot a shoe store and demand my mom to come with me and just look around. We end up buying a pair of really cute leather boots for $150. A sale is going on and we have got a really good deal.
We go to board the seabus.
I thought it would be like a ferry but it is basically an enclosed boat. View of the setting sun behind the Vancouver skyline is amazing. We eventually reach a place called Lonsdale Quay. A deck is completely covered in snow. We walk in to the ‘Lonsdale Quay Market’ to have a look around. There are many different things being sold over there ranging from fish, to jewelery, to clothes. We laze around, not really buying anything and return just in time for the seabus to take off again.
By now the sun has dipped below horizon and the sky is a beautiful palette of pink, blue and purple. We seem to be among the few who are actually interested in the scenery and the seabus, most of the others are peeping into the shopping bags filled with the goodies they have bought at the Lonsdale Quay Market. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that there’s one such place in the world where people travel across the sea to get groceries! We thought that since it is getting dark, we should head back to the hotel. And so, we do.
Date: 29th December, 2017
I have always loved libraries as they are portrayed in movies. Tall bookshelves made of wood, a dim yellow lights providing just enough luminescence to faintly light up the dark corners and plush armchairs to recline on while reading. Although the Vancouver Public Library is quite different from my perspective of a perfect library, it is still amazing. Shaped like a Colosseum, the inside of the library is furnished with modern designs and the first shelf I see is that of new releases. I browse through them and make a mental note of all the books I would like to buy when I get back home. I don’t have enough time to read a book now since we are here only for two hours and I don’t like leaving a book unfinished.
There is an attached food court, enclosed by windows from all sides. So whenever we move a chair or shut a door, the noise seems to echo all through the building. Even after two and a half hours, I manage to see only a small part of the library. I am very sad to leave. Our school library has quite a big collection of books but students are allowed to access only a small section. Until fifth grade, we were not even allowed to issue books since we were “too small.” Now, we have to make charts about the book we issue and we are allowed to issue one book at a time. I always wished to have a public library near me so I could issue any book I wanted, but unfortunately I don’t.
However, I have a small library of my own. Those are my collection of books. Now all my friends borrow books from me. I am only too happy to lend them, so that my real friends get to know about my imaginary friends from the printed pages.
Enough about books, let’s return to Vancouver and its many wonderful tourist destinations. Capilano Bridge is one of these wonderful places. It is a suspension bridge, located a little away from the city. Since it is Christmas time, we are told, it will be lit up by a million lights. We have to take a special bus at Canada Place which will take us to Capilano. We arrive there and see a huge group of people crowding around for ticket, making us glad that we had bought our tickets beforehand. We are able to go in immediately and assume that we will be able to access the bridge easily. I forgot that my assumptions never turn out to be right.
A huge, winding serpentine queue has been formed by the people who have come to visit Capilano Bridge. We wait for almost an hour and half before we can get to the bridge. It is adorned with a rush of lights as we have been told by everyone. It looks beautiful and seems to light up the night sky, brighter than the moon can. Not that I get scared easily but as soon as I step onto the bridge, I feel fear taking over me. The bridge is shaking violently and I notice that it is directly above a body of water. I want to go back but there is a crowd of people behind me, preventing me to walk back. All I can do is to move ahead with the crowd. My heart feels like it will pop out of my chest any minute now.
Somehow I make it to the end of the bridge and breathe a sigh of relief. As soon I get over the dizziness that had overtaken me, I look around. I can see several tall trees, all beautifully covered with lights. I wonder how they might have covered the whole tree with lights and what a very difficult job it must have been. We walk around on a winding path and see many lanterns dangling above the water, suspended by wires. We go back the way we had come and reach a sign for Treetop adventure which leads to a tree-house. I can see the small suspended bridges that connect almost all the trees in the forest. We go around from tree to tree. This is not as scary as the Capilano.
Now is the time for us to return, something that I had dreaded. We have to wait in a long queue again. Thankfully it is not as big as the one before and the trip back to the other end of the bridge seemed shorter than before. We hurry back to the bus since it is getting late. We have to meet Jami Uncle and his family for dinner. I take one last look at the beautiful yet dangerous Capilano Bridge.
If you know anything about me (which you probably don’t), you’d recollect that I do not like shopping. When I go out and like something, I buy it. I never specifically go out to shop. But ever since I have come to Canada, all I want to do is shop. We have quite a nice mall, just next to our hotel. There is a big grocery store there from where we buy food, since our hotel’s restaurant is under renovation. There are many other stores here which made us spend money over lots of clothes and accessories. Everything is just so nice and everything is on sale. Earlier I used to think that sales must cause a big loss to stores because they sell everything at a lower price but now I understand that sales actually brings big revenue to stores.
People come and buy things they hardly need, just because they are on sale. They keep on buying things thinking “Oh, this is so cheap” and in the end their bill is more than they would have ever spent if the items had not been on sale. A special sale called Boxing Day Sale, which takes place just after Christmas, is going on now. I admit, I am the one who shopped the most.
There is one store in particular which really infuriated me. It is said to be a bookstore but all it has are DVD’s. A small shelf is dedicated to books, most of which I have already read and the rest are children’s colouring books and toys. Why do they have to call it a bookstore if it is just a shop which has everything except good books?
Once back, we told about our experiences to the local people we had become friends with. Some of them confessed that they hadn’t visited those places although they lived in that very city. I guess when you are living in a city, your time goes running for work and school, and you feel like you know all the places in the city because you live there. Even I am constantly surprised by the wonderful places in Mumbai I discover, that I had never even heard of before. As tourists, we just want to know everything there is to. As residents, we have a list of the places we frequently visit and seldom explore beyond that.