After camping at “Cultus Lake”, Ash and I returned to Vancouver around midday. The day was really nice and we decided to go on a little bike tour around the city. We went down to the water, where everyone was enjoying the last day of this long weekend. The people were laying on the grass with a magnificent view of the “False Creek Bay” and the glittering skyscrapers of the downtown area.
We biked all along the water to the famous “Stanley Park”, the large forested area in the north of the Vancouver peninsula. Along the shore, a bike path and walkway lead all around the park. However, it’s only a one-way lane for bikes to accommodate the large number of people that come here on a summer’s day. Artwork, swimming pools with ocean view and food trucks wait on the other side to serve the exhausted locals and tourists after completing the 10km loop.
Since Ash was busy with work and had an appointment on the following day, I set off to explore the city on my own. This time the air was a bit cooler and a strong wind was blowing from the sea. The setting sun illuminated the skyline with a warm glow and it was easy to see, why Vancouver, named after the captain who led several major expeditions in this part of the continent, has been continuously named as one of the best places to live in the world.
Another day we met up with Andrew, who graduated with us from high school in Maidstone back in 2005. He is now an earthquake specialist for landslides and moved to Vancouver after finishing his bachelor degree in Edmonton, which is where I met him last time. The second time we were joined by Ryan, who is developing computer games and also graduated with us from Maidstone. Neither Andrew nor I had seen him since. It was really nice to catch up and see what they had been up to.
Since I had two weeks to spare, I decided to go to Vancouver Island once again. With my parents and my brothers I had visited Tofino, Ucluelet and Victoria back in 2006. These are also the places that most people visit during their first time on the island. But the island is much bigger than that. I was thinking of going up north, if I could figure out a way of getting there. However, my first stop was Victoria, after a nice ferry ride through the “Strait of Georgia”.
Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. It was named after the British Queen ruling at that time. It is much smaller than Vancouver and lacks the glittering skyscrapers, but definitely has its charm. Old and impressive buildings include the “Fairmont Empress Hotel”, the parliament of British Columbia or the gate to Chinatown. The Chinatown itself is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco.
“Mount Douglas” provides an excellent view over the city, especially at sunset. At that time the coastal mountains of Washington, just on the other side of the “Juan de Fuca Strait”, get a red glow. The same view without the city can be seen from the shores of the “Beacon Hill Park”, which is also a perfect place to practice the speeches for the theater play of “Macbeth” as I found out from the leading actor.
And somewhere along those lines I came up with a better plan for the following weeks: Hiking the “West Coast Trail”, a famous multi-day hike north west of Victoria. I spent a full day booking all the required permits and busses and preparing for the trip. But since I couldn’t start right away and all the hostels were booked out, I decided to prepare also mentally by camping and hiking around “Thetis Lake”, which is just out of town.