Monday 17 February 2014

Canada Part 6......

After breakfast on Day 7 we boarded our coach for an orientation tour of Vancouver, our first stop being Stanley Park.

The park has a long history and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. The land was originally used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before British Columbia was colonized by the British during the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.

For many years after colonization, the future park with its abundant resources would also be home to nonaboriginal settlers. The land was later turned into Vancouver's first park when the city incorporated in 1886. It was named after Lord Stanley, a British politician who had recently been appointed governor general.

We walked around the park taking in the beauty then moved on to Brockton Point to see the First Nation's Totems.

The view beyond one of the huge gateways to the park.

Lions Gate Bridge in the distance

The Girl in the Wetsuit -although some believe it was a replicate of Copenhagen's The Little Mermaid, the  creator stated:   I didn't believe we should have a copy of the mermaid. She is rightfully a symbol of Copenhagen... I proposed to have a life-size scuba diver seated there. At that time scuba diving was getting quite popular here in Vancouver and, just as important, I didn't know of any similar sculpture anywhere in the world, it was a new idea.

On our way through the park to Prospect Point and Lowden's Lookout this 600 year old Cedar tree was pointed out to us.

That wasn't the oldest tree we saw though, this next one was 1000 years old and had been hollowed out by lightening!
We arrived at Prospect Point, the highest point in Stanley Park.  Lowden's Lookout was originally the site of a signal station, which guided ships through First Narrows, the views were magnificent,

as was the flora.

We got a closer look at Lions Gate Bridge, opened in 1938, officially known as the First Narrows Bridge, it is a suspension bridge that crosses the first narrows of Burrard Inlet and connects the City of Vancouver to the North Shore municipalities of the District of North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver and West Vancouver. The term "Lions Gate" refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver. Northbound traffic on the bridge heads in their general direction.
If you click on the photo you should be able to see the stone lions on either side of the bridge.  Leaving Stanley Park behind we headed back into the city passing BC Place Stadium,

then we were taken to Dr Sun Yat Sen Park.

Built in 1985-1986. The outer park was designed by architects Joe Wai and Donal Vaughan, while the inner garden was conceived by Wang Zu-Xin as the chief architect, with the help of experts from the Landscape Architecture Company of Suzhou, China. Funding for the project came from the Chinese and Canadian governments, the local Chinese community, and other public and private sector sources, and it opened on April 24, 1986, in time for Expo 86.  

It is an oasis of calm in a busy city and I could have stayed there all day, however we had to return to our coach to be taken to the next place on the tour, historic Gastown,
where we were dropped off to get some lunch and have the rest of the day to ourselves.    Gastown was Vancouver's first downtown core and is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first Saloon.

There was also this historical plaque

and a steam powered clock! 

Built to cover a steam grate, part of Vancouver's distributed steam-heating system, the clock was built as a way to harness the steam and to prevent street people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather. Its original design was faulty and it had to be powered by electricity after a breakdown. The steam mechanism was completely restored with the financial support of local businesses as it had become a major tourist attraction, and is promoted as a heritage feature although it is of modern invention. The steam used is low pressure downtown-wide steam heating network (from a plant adjacent to the Georgia Viaduct) that powers a miniature steam engine in its base, in turn driving a chain lift. The chain lift moves steel balls upward, where they are unloaded and roll to a descending chain. The weight of the balls on the descending chain drives a conventional pendulum clock escapement, geared to the hands on the four faces. The steam also powers the clock's sound production as Whistles used instead of bells to produce the Westminster "chime" and to signal the time.

After lunch in one of the many pubs/restaurants/bars we made our way to Harbour Centre. I'm not very good with heights but agreed to go up in with MWM as it promised spectacular views of the city.   The Vancouver Lookout located atop the Harbour Centre business building, was officially opened on August 13, 1977 by Neil Armstrong, whose footprint was imprinted onto cement and was on display on the viewing/observation deck until it was lost (or stolen) during renovations. Glass elevators whisk visitors 168 meters (553 feet) skyward from street level to the Observation Deck in 40 seconds, you can see them in the video below which we took before going in.  Before you ask, the beeping you can hear is the sound of the pedestrian crossing where we were standing to take the video.

The views are magnificent, though I tried not to look down and left the filming to MWM.

After all that excitement we called in a Costa for a coffee before heading back to our hotel for a short rest before freshening up to go out to eat.    We didn't want to go to far so we did a quick search online and found a restaurant/bar nearby with a decent menu where we didn't need to book.    When we arrived at the bar we were told it was $10 each to come in as they were showing live cage fighting on the big screens!   We told them we only wanted to eat and have a few drinks and promised not to the watch the TV and they let us in.   Once inside we understood why they were charging people to come in because a lot of people were neither eating or drinking, they were just watching the screens.    Anyway we enjoyed our food and a few beers and (don't tell them) the cage fighting!  LOL

I hope you'll join me for Canada Part 7 when we go to Victoria, Vancouver Island, for a two night stay.