What better way to spend the 4th of July than at a motorsport event? the smell of fuel, the roar of the engines, the excitement of the crowd… ah. Well, maybe not. When Formula E announced that they would be hosting an event in Vancouver, BC I was ecstatic at the idea of taking Amtrak from my home in Eugene, OR to the other end of the line in BC with My Salsa Marrakesh checked, to ride around Vancouver and the race venue, to see a city I've never been to except the YVR international terminal. There wouldn't be the smell of octane, the roar more of a whine, but the crowd! Alas, that didn't happen.
With the plans for the race falling apart less than a week after I spent 500$ on an AirBNB rental and 200$ on Amtrak tickets, I decided nonetheless to travel up. Of course, I hadn't planned this all out in my head very well and as the date got close I realized that my bike would likely be crammed in to the under carriage of not two but three Amtrak connector busses with a bunch of hard-side luggage on a busy holiday weekend, a risk I wasn't terribly happy with. So on Friday morning I got up nice and early, walked my way down to the Amtrak station and boarded a bus to Portland, transferred to an Amtrak Cascades route which left Eugene shortly after I did1 up to Seattle, and then back on a bus for the border crossing.2 Get an Uber from the train station so I don't have to deal with buying a transit card and bus-routing at night. So I get in to my AirBNB late, it's basically 14 hours door-to-door with the bus layovers and whatnot, long day, and I missed the Canada Day celebrations by the time I got in.
Woke up early on Saturday and walked downtown to Yes Cycle to rent a bike, stopping for Tim Hortons along the way. Tim's was fine, I don't really "get it" but I don't really "get" fast food in general… The bike from this company was … basically fine, a rattly little cruiser but it took the hills just fine. I was definitely missing my Marra though… Rode around Stanley Park and the waterfronts.
Cycling in Vancouver is really nice, they have quite a decent network of separated bike lanes with metal separation posts and dedicated signaling, even downtown I didn't really feel unsafe except for when I accidentally dumped myself on to a busy thoroughfare after leaving the waterfront. It didn't take long to find myself back on the bike paths. East Van Roaster here along the bike path made me a nice machiatto and I rode the seaside bike path all the way around False Creek back towards Kitsilano where I was staying. I had some really tasty potato pancakes from Delara Restaurant for dinner and wound down reading and listening to music back at the AirBNB after sitting in the park watching some lads play cricket until my phone ran out of roaming data. That stuff still ain't cheap, I think I spent 30$ on data charges this weekend…
(direct link to the bike path above)
It was raining on Sunday, and I didn't really feel like cycling in the rain, I get enough of that at home. Returned the rental3, walked around downtown, grabbed a transit card, had a Japadog For Lunch, and then went looking for a Tea House. After walking past a few Boba joints I found Van Cha, a little Chinese gongfucha room downtown staffed by a lone white guy who, as it turns out, knew and Brewed better than a lot of the Chinese folks who have brewed with me. Good tea, interesting conversation about antiques, tea culture, politics. The essence of tea and teaism to me has always been social, interpersonal, relational, conversational, and I felt so lucky to have found this place and this character Michael in that place and a lovely jasmine tea to go along with it.
Floating on air and vibrating with tea energy, I caught busses back home. The busses run with better headways than I ever had in Seattle or SF Bay Area. I had Sushi at Kintsaya Sushi For Dinner after wandering around Kitsalano again. I was hoping to get to UBC and the beach parks on Sunday but with the weather as it was, I didn't really feel like it, so I went back to my AirBNB again fairly early since I knew I'd have to be at the bus terminal at 8am to get back to the US.
Five minutes after arriving back in Eugene some kids drove by me and shot fireworks at my head, and all that continued until about 1am. Great to be back in the old US of A.
I'd like to spend more time in Vancouver. It was a really pretty city with all the same warts as the rest of the American west coast, but with a lot more of the sort of international or European modernism. Lots of green space, lots of cycling infrastructure, much more decent public transit, but of course it's gigantically expensive to live there, so my tourist's view was certainly limited.
not sure why the booking system put me on a bus for this leg…↩︎
I was idly hoping that full train service would be restored before my travel, but it wasn't to be; instead they announced via Twitter post that they would be resuming in September while I was on the train. Next time!↩︎
65CAD for a 24 hour rental, should've just returned it the night before…↩︎
No idea why my phone track is missing the points within Stanley Park, how interesting.
also ty OpenStreetMap for the Open Street Maps↩︎