The promised rain has arrived, as light showers alternating with deceptive dry moments followed by heavier rain. It was too wet for us to want a long walk, although plenty of Vancouverians are out jogging or tramping or rowing or sailing in the rain. We opted for public transportation. Canadian Pacific RR station
We boarded a bus at the corner, and got transfers. The trip to downtown Vancouver ran along Davie Street, lined with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. We got off at the waterfront and paused to admire Canada Place, left from Expo 82 and now a conference center with shops, and the Canadian Pacific Railroad station. The station is beautifully maintained, with various shops lining the marble interior. There is a stop for a commuter train, and the adjacent freight yard was full of cars, but it's a far cry from a busy European railroad station.
We noticed the Sea Bus coming across the harbor, and decided to use our free transfer. As we went down the ramp a sign said we had 45 seconds until the boat left, and we knew we'd never make it, but they waited for us anyhow. The other passengers, apparently regular commuters, sat quietly, reading or dozing, but we moved from window to window to catch the view. There was only one passenger deck; an array of doors opened to starboard to let everyone off, and then an array of doors opened to port to let the new passengers on. Two ferries went quickly back and forth across the bay, always full of passengers. We saw the busy port as well as the impressive skylines of Vancouver and North Vancouver. Irish line dancing
On the north shore we found ourselves at Lonsdale Quay, which was crowded with shoppers at the market stalls. At the rear of the quay a bunch of children were doing Irish line dancing for St. Patrick's day; we got a kick out of the earnest little Chinese girls in their Irish costumes!
We time-stamped another transit ticket for the return boat trip; our ticket was good for 90 minutes. So naturally, we boarded the SkyTrain, a mostly elevated train which goes from the Waterfront all the way to King George Street in Surrey - about 20 kilometers.
The SkyTrain was built for Expo82, and left the city with a nice rapid transit line. We enjoyed the views of the city as we went through Burnaby and New Westminster, which was founded earlier than Vancouver. Vancouver became the major city simply because the Canadian Pacific ended in Vancouver.
Lots of passengers got off at the big shopping mall in Metrotown, but we rode to the end of the line. Finding nothing to do at King George Street, we turned around and returned -- our ticket was still good! Another passenger next "Our" sea gull to us was carrying three 8-kilogram sacks of scented rice imported from Thailand. Back downtown, we walked the rest of the way back to our apartment, down a different street, looking at the stores and buildings.
We were pretty proud of our transit experiences. During weekday rush hours we would have needed to add fares to cross zone boundaries on the ferry and SkyTrain, but not on the weekends. So our entire trip, consisting of a bus ride downtown, over and back on the SeaBus, or ferry, and then from one end of the line to the other and back again on the SkyTrain, had cost us each two tickets, or $3.20 Canadian, about $2.10 American.
Vancouver doesn't have the best parking situation. Many homes have no garages; many businesses have no parking spaces, many parking lots are only for monthly tenants, and parking meters require handfuls of coins (some even take credit cards) But there aren't many parking meters, anyhow, as street parking is often reserved for those with neighborhood parking permits. So our impression is that it's easier for the locals to find a place to park than visitors. Our plan is to walk or take public transit except for out-of-town excursions.