Thursday 3 May
Loooong walk into Downtown and beyond
After a slow morning, we headed alone the main road (W 4th Ave) on our way into central Vancouver. This morning, we chose the Burrard Street Bridge, one of three bridges across False Creek, connecting Kits to downtown Vancouver. The bridge was completed the same year as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the pylons have a striking similarity, as do the steel trusses (although a little smaller).
Just over the bridge, we came across The Musette café, a cyclists dream, with bikes everywhere and reruns of cycling events – particularly poignant given the Giro d’Italia was about to begin. There were even team feed bags hanging on the walls and a big banner used to mark distance from mountain summits in the Tour de France.
After strolling through the main part of the city, we made our way towards Gastown, the original settlement that became the core of the creation on Vancouver. Souvenir shops lined the streets, filled with the standard fridge magnets, T-Shirts and tea towels. Every product that you can think of has been made from maple syrup. We also visited a specialist maple syrup shop, where we found out that there are different classes of the sweet treat, depending on the colour. The darker it is, the more robust the flavour. There are strict regulations governing the grading.
Gastown lays claim to the world’s first steam powered clock. The live steam winds the weights and blows the whistles. Every 4.5 minute, one steel weight (ball) travels by steam power to the top of the clock. Each quarter hour, the clock sounds the Westminster Chimes – in steam, sounding like a small train. “Gassy” Jack, the founding father of Gastown is remembered in a statue outside the pub he started.
On leaving the tourist area of Gastown, we came across a part of town where welfare recipients hang out alongside with the working class, creating an eclectic mix. A community development has been built, housing a communal basketball court and a piano – and there were people playing both basketball and music. We sat and had something to eat enjoying the vibe.
Our next destination was the waterfront area, housing the exhibition centres, large hotels, restaurants and cruise ship terminals. It also has a large number of seaplanes, with aircraft taking off and landing almost constantly, making a huge (eventually annoying!) noise as they echo against the tall city buildings. The cauldron from the 2010 Winter Olympics takes pride of place.
We had some time to waste before collecting out race package for the half marathon, so headed off towards Stanley Park, a 405-hectare public park that borders the downtown of Vancouver. It is almost entirely surrounded by waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay.
Our gear collection was largely uneventful, albeit time-consuming. We were glad to get out of the ballroom in the exhibition centre and head back to Purebread, a bakery we had discovered whilst exploring Gastown. Such yummy food!!
Our walk back home took us over the Granville Bridge, the second of the three bridges.