This was our free day in Vancouver and naturally, I wanted to do everything.
I had a master plan (for once); we would start off by visiting Lynn Canyon then grab some lunch in the city, wander around Gastown, visit Granville Island and finish off with a bike ride around Stanley Park.
In the space of about 7 hours. Yeah.
We at least made a good start:
Chad drove us from the campground to Lynn Canyon where we were faced by a metal rope bridge that swung and bounced as we crossed it.
Beneath us, the firry canyon framed a stream of beautifully clear, turquoise water. I stopped in the middle of the bridge and tried to take a (non-blurry) photo as the bridge writhed underfoot.
On the other side, we followed the path down to the river where we picked our way amongst the rocks.
It looked and felt like a spa hewn out of the wilderness.
We found more of that deliciously rich green water collected in deep pools. The water was so glassy that we could see right to the bottom of it, even though some points were easily a few metres deep. (As it turns out this was actually the 30 ft pool - whoever knew?)
Hopping across the stones to cross the river, we watched the pebbly river bed drop down deeper and deeper until it reached a pretty little waterfall just around the river bend (yes, I spent pretty much the entirety of this trip singing Pocahontas songs). Michele and I managed to lose the others who had started making their way back along towards the suspension bridge - but then we decided to run down to have a look at the Twin Falls too!
(Just look at how deep and clear that ^ water is! So incredible!)
Our time was running out fast so we pretty much ran through the woods down to the Twin Falls.
Every now and then, we came across another group of walkers and quickly sped past them. Running down and down and down, I began to realise that there was a major flaw in this idea; the uphill climb afterwards.
And finally, after a ten minute sprint, we made it.
And if I thought I'd seen deep water that day, this ^ was something else. You can see where the water has carved a great chasm in the rock over the years just before the lip of the falls. Considering the clarity of the water, I can only imagine how deep that goes.
I'd have loved to explored it better and gone for a swim in the rivers at the heart of the canyon.
We could only stay for about 30 seconds before we had to start tearing back up the hill towards the carpark. This meant a lot of stairs and a lot of thigh burn in a very intense five minute period!
Back at the top, I staggered into the toilets with trembling legs. Disobeying this particularly interesting sign was the last thing on my mind:
Having recovered, we jumped back in the van and made our way back to downtown Vancouver!
Once we were back in the city, Chad pointed out the Gasworks Brewery where we could try some local beers and that was it, we were off.
Ever the culinary couple, we took it upon ourselves to explore Canada's culture a little more thoroughly.
Poutine (which just sounds like a rude French word if you ask me) is the wonderful combination of fries, cheese curds and lashings of hot gravy. It's a heart attack on a plate and probably single-handedly responsible for the fact that none of my jeans fit me anymore (ok, ok, the ice cream sandwiches and the Cheetos that I ate every single day helped too...)
Just imagine: fresh, hot fries, smothered in great big gooey gobs of cheese curd, all swimming in a gravy that was so not-vegetarian it hurt my fickle sense of morality.
So we got a seared-tuna, mango and edamame salad to share as well.
Now, the Gasworks Brewery is, of course, a great place to taste a range of beers. Which is what we did (including one that tasted amazingly of cucumber!)
Meaning that by the time we finally staggered out, we were ever so slightly sozzled.
Which meant that when we were accosted by some random guy who told us all about the steam clock and offered to take a photo of us in front of it (MOST AWKWARD PHOTO IN THE WORLD ALERT - I could barely get my arm around Michele's giant backpack), we weren't in the best position to fight him off.
As a Brit, I find it ever so hard to tell people that I'm not interested. And dammit, I knew he was after money from the moment he started talking to us but I was just too drunk to give him the slip. So this monstrosity of a couple-on-holiday photo happened:
And then he ran some story about homeless people past us (which may or may not have been true but anyway) and so drunken us then parted with $20 CAD and then we still couldn't shake him off.
So by this point, I decided that we may as well take advantage of our newfound information point and ask the quickest way to Granville Island, the next sight on our whistlestop tour.
"I'm actually going that way myself! Let me take you there!" He cried.
(Is this friendliness or just really inappropriate? In any case - he didn't take us there. He walked us sooo slowly to the subway train thing, came with us on the train, told us to get off at the stop closest to where he lived and then pointed us in the vague direction of the water. I thought we had about 5-10 minutes walk left. Wrong. So, so wrong. We were miles away from Granville Island and not much closer than we had been when we left the flipping steam clock! So we ended up taking a boat to the island, by which point we were both pretty sober and depressed and aware that we had hardly any time left because we'd wasted it all either drinking beer or following men around the periphery of the city centre!)
Well at least the boat ride was pretty:
Upon reaching Granville Island, Michele (the lightweight) needed a lie down so I went off to explore on my own.
Back at the market in Seattle, I'd bought a dainty little silver ring with a kink in it that almost looked like an 'S' so this time I was on the hunt for a similar ring with a 'V' shape on it. I'd found hundreds in Seattle so how hard could it be?
Very hard apparently.
So I settled for a wander around the food market. Which by this point was a power walk through, taking in the sites and trying to be a good traveller whilst simultaneously sweating at the sight of the hands on my watch sliding closer and closer to our pick-up time.
Seattle taught me to have a plan. Vancouver taught me to make sure the plan was temporally feasible.
You learn something new every day right?!
^ Rather cheeky fella in the pink shirt there! Honestly, people smile into the lens when Michele is behind the camera and I just get abuse!
I collected my bedraggled Italian from the dock, stuffed him back on a boat and headed back over to the main city. We then proceeded to sprint through the streets, having thoroughly underestimated the size of each block as judged from our maps (the beer's influence still perhaps?!)
Nevertheless, I still managed to find the most important sight in Vancouver:
And yet somehow, after our incredibly manic day of dashing around and getting drunk and practically throwing money away... I was left with a sense of Vancouver being this wonderfully calm and chilled city.
Yes, we barely even touched the surface, let alone scratched it. Yes, we spent most of our time running from place to place without stopping to just see what was in front of us. Yes, for most of that day I was either too drunk to understand what was going on or too stressed about the fact that we just handed over $20 (which at the time felt like loads, lol I spent so much more after that, the credit card statements are still rolling in) - but I loved it.
That night back at the campsite, the group got together and headed for the swimming pool where we bonded over a particularly intense game of keep-the-beachball-in-the-air-for-more-than-3-seconds before curling up in the jacuzzi and waiting for the rest of our holiday to begin. And oh, it was a good one.