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Unread 6 Jan 20, 07:57 PM  
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Scruffette
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O Can-aska - Day 1 - Travel to Vancouver

O Can-aska - Introduction & Day 1

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Friday 30th August 2019 - Travel to Vancouver


Hello and welcome to another trip report

Having taken an embarrassingly long time to finish my honeymoon trip report, I will do my best to finish this one a bit quicker (particularly as we have a rather exciting California trip coming up in May).

Your cast is me, Lucy and husband Ollie. Both 28, one lifetime Disney fan (me) and one more recent convert (Ollie). Both now fans of cruising too!

Our itinerary for the trip was
3 nights Vancouver
7 nights Alaskan cruise on the Disney Wonder
2 nights Victoria
1 night Telegraph Cove
1 night Campbell River
2 nights Whistler

We got into cruising when we just popped a 3 night cruise on the Disney Dream on our Florida trip in 2015. This is now our 4th cruise in 5 years Wed been talking about the Alaska cruises for a while as they looked so beautiful. This cruise was booked on release, but we then cancelled and rebooked when we put down a placeholder on our honeymoon cruise. The price with the 10% discount was about what we had already secured, but this would give us $200 on board credit (which, shockingly for us, made for a rather small room bill to pay at the end of the cruise).

Ollie has been really keen on Canada for a long time, so we decided to try and fit in as much as we could around the cruise. A stay in Vancouver was a must as the cruise departed from there. Other activities include a grizzly bear tour (for Ollie), whale watching (for me), scary tall gondolas in Whistler, and of course, lots of food.

Spoiler we loved Canada and are already planning to visit again. We only really scratched the surface and its such a big country, its hard to narrow down a trip.

Day 1

For a travel day, the morning started at a respectable time of 7.25am. The benefits of a lunch time flight and living near an airport!

We got ready pretty leisurely, packed the last few bits, triple checked the passports and were ready just before the taxi turned up. In a last minute check, we realised we had somehow bolted but not locked the back door. Queue a mad run around the house to find the back door keys from the super secret hiding place while the taxi was waiting.

We were driving off in the taxi by 8.35am (5 minutes early) and had a cheeky snack in the taxi of Aldis version of white chocolate covered oreos. Might as well start with the dessert-for-breakfast now. Our taxi driver wasnt chatty at all, so I didnt get to lie to him about having a cat. (I like to make up an imaginary cat and tell the taxi driver that someone is coming in twice a day to feed it. In my head, all taxi drivers run a sophisticated burglary ring. The story has gotten more elaborate over the years, including a full back story for the cat).

The journey was surprisingly quick, but Friday morning traffic in the area is always quicker. We checked our cases which both weighed in at just under 21kg. I normally have a fairly light case, but I had packed a lot more layers then normal, including two types of coat. (This was a good plan, as we experienced all the weathers on our trip).

It was onto security next, where we were able to take the fast track queue. Manchester airport offer free tickets if you click and collect your duty free, as well as an additional 10% off. In which case, it would be rude not to stock up. (Annoyingly, this has recently gone from a 20 spend requirement to a 100 spend, so I wont be using this in future.)

I dont know what it is about the fast track queue in terminal 1 at Manchester Airport, but I always find it has the worst passengers trying to go through. The liquid rule has been in place for years why are people surprised by this? I get people from other countries might not realise the liquids need to come out of your bag, but surely the Brits have no excuse? And why do people insist of arguing with the security guards about what is and isnt a liquid? *Rant over*

Anyway, we were through soon enough. I queued to pick up my duty free order (Estee Lauder double wear foundation, Estee Lauder primer and a Benefit goof proof brow pencil, in case anyone is interested) and our next stop was breakfast.

We settled on Giraffe, as we didnt fancy a traditional breakfast. It felt quite late in the day, although it way only about 9.45am. Record time getting from home to airside!



Our table had a great view of the planes. Ollie was captivated by a Lufthansa flight loading and unloading, so I didnt get much conversation out of him. A rare sight now with the Thomas Cook planes in the background.



To drink, I went with a hot chocolate (3.50). Ollie went for a Redkorderlig strawberry and lime cider. 4.95, for airport prices, wasnt too bad.



To eat, we both went for the breakfast quesadilla (8.95). We also added a side of home fries (2), which we like the breakfast potatoes you get at Frankie and Bennys.



My quesadilla was a little overdone, but still tasty. I was surprisingly full by the end it takes a few days into the holiday for my stomach to expand for North American portions!

We were about an hour and half in Giraffe as Ollie was enjoying the view. There were plenty of free tables, so we werent being too greedy. We took it in turns to restroom (or should I say washroom, as were going to Canada?) It was then time to source our plane snacks!
We checked out both Boots shops. They had different bits and pieces in stock and we both wanted things from each to make up our meal deals! I settled on a chicken ceaser wrap, a cookie dough brownie bar and a coke zero. Ollie went for a Higgly Piggly sandwich, a white chocolate Kinder Bueno and a cherry pepsi max. We wanted to be prepared, as we werent sure what the plane food would be like.
I also bought two 1L bottles of water for 1.30 each, after doing a water index (Boots is always cheaper than WH Smith for water).

Ollie managed to successfully steer me away from all shops, but I did stop in Jo Malone for a quick spray (Nectarine and Honey Blossom is my go-to).

We did get stopped by a foreign lady wanting to know which gate to go to. We tried to tell her that the gate would be on the screen when it was ready, but she didnt like this answer. She walked off while Ollie was pointing at the screen to ask someone else the same question.

Our gate was now ready, so we walked over and were called for boarding fairly early on.



This was our first Air Transat flight and we were pleased to find direct flights from Manchester to Vancouver that operated a few days a week. Tragically they didnt fly on Saturdays, so we had to extend our holiday by flying out on a Friday.

Id read some mixed reviews about Air Transat, but they were perfectly fine. We were at the front of economy and the first 10 rows felt like their own little section.



The leg room was decent compared to a lot of airlines. The seats themselves were very basic, more like what youd normally have for short haul. They did however have the fold-in head rests which are always a nice touch. However, the configuration of the seat supports mean that the aisle seat and middle seat are fighting over leg room a bit. Fortunately, on the way out we had no one else in our row. I love it when this happens no one to ask to go to the toilet and no awkward small talk. The rest of the plane looked fairly full, so we got lucky here.

The cabin crew were very friendly and were particularly good with a young baby a few rows in front of us (They were so well behaved and only cried on landing. Understandable no one likes their ears popping!) I like that we got all the announcements in French as well as English. Although, the pilots French announcements were a lot shorter than the English versions I think his French was a bit rusty!

They asked us to power down our phones for take off, which seemed a bit outdated. We also couldnt use in flight entertainment on take off.

Anyway, we were soon in the air and on our way. Estimated journey time was 9 hours (less than the advertised 9.5 hours) which I thought was good for all that distance.

Ollie wasted no time in getting straight into the IFE once we were in the air. He started with Stan and Ollie, which he really enjoyed. I settled on the Favourite a bit odd, as lots of Oscar films can be. Olivia Coleman was excellent though.

They came round with included soft drinks shortly into the flight. I found mixed online reviews about exactly what was included, but the drinks offerings were fairly regular. We got soft drinks 4 times in total (once with lunch). The also came round once with water.

Lunch was served about 2 hours into the flight. They offered chicken or pasta. Ollie asked what type of chicken it was, and the cabin crew member advised it was chicken velout. This provided no extra clarity on what the meal was, so we just said that was fine!



Turns out it was a creamy sauce with carrots and celery (the celery was picked out) served with rice. Standard plane food.



Odd coloured photos here Air Transat were fans of purple colour mood lighting.

The starter was a cold bean salad which was ok. It was served with a bread roll that has seen better days. Ollie got an included glass of white wine with his meal, while I went for a diet coke.

Dessert was a packed of chocolate quinoa coconut bites. Definitely not a GU pudding! Ollie liked them (hes a bit weird like that) so I gave him mine as well.

Im normally a really good sleeper on flights (or anywhere else, if youve read my previous trip reports) and can easily get a good 3-4 hours of napping in. I really struggled this time, and the people sitting behind didnt help. The teenage boy behind me kept tapping his touch screen really hard (the touch screens were actually very sensitive) and the seat would shake every time he got up. I did glare and get an apology from Mum who was sat next to him, but it was still pretty disruptive.

Instead of napping, I watched the first half of A Star is Born. I still havent seen the second half, but Im not particularly bothered about this.

Ollie watched Fantastic Beast 2 (which we watched in the cinema) and The Favourite.

About 2 hours from landing they brought around a snack a cheesy tomato calzone that was very tasty.



We were off the plane fairly quickly and soon walking into what I think is the most welcoming immigration hall Ive ever been to, complete with water feature and totem pole. If it wasnt an immigration hall I would have taken a picture!

The first part of the immigration process is on a machine (no we dont have any weapons and havent been to a farm recently), they take your photo and give you a print out. We showed this to an immigration officer and were then waved straight through. A flight from Korea had also just landed, and they were ushered to a different queue for additional screening.

Ollies case was one of the first ones off. We then waited a long time for my case, which was genuinely the penultimate case to come off. At that point, I was starting to get a bit panicky and wish I hadnt forgotten to put some of my clothes in Ollies case. Im not sure how two cases can end up so far apart?

Anyway, we soon on our way through, handed in the print out of our faces (lots of people mislaid this in between immigration and luggage reclaim) and were soon on our way to the Skytrain.

Up in the lift, I mean elevator, to the Skytrain -



It was beautifully sign posted to make the process as easy as possible. We bought two one-way tickets from the machine a two zone ticket each for $9.50.





The sky train was super easy to use, we took it straight from the airport to the Waterfront station, which was the end of the line near the cruise port. The journey was only about 20 minutes. Once off, we walked to our hotel. Ollie was a star and took the two large cases, while I took the small hand luggage case. Not easy when the hotel is slightly up hill.

I stopped to tie my shoe at one point, not realising I was in the doorway of a scientology place!

We were soon at our hotel, which had a flight of steps up to the front entrance and then more steps up to the room good job I wasnt the one doing the lifting.

We checked in and were given a room on the third floor (fortunately thats really the second floor to us).

We had chosen the Victorian Hotel in Vancouver, mainly because it was the most reasonably priced hotel we could find that wasnt too far from the cruise port and the other main sights. As a compromise, we chose a room that had a shared bathroom. The trip advisor reviews all said the shared bathrooms were fine, and in fairness they were very clean and modern. On each floor there was a unisex toilet, a unisex toilet with shower and a ladies only toilet and shower. Sorry gents! Our room was fairly close to the toilets (good for middle of the night toilet trips) but not so close that we heard any noise.
Our room had a bay window and also a sink in the room which was handy. We think this may have been an upgraded room and this was more spacious than some of the other rooms we saw.





The room was fine, the bed was huge and comfy. There was a massive TV, which we used exclusively to watch the Weather Channel, our favourite when in North America. There was detailed coverage of Hurricane Dorian, which we kept up to date with. (Very lucky, we cruised this week last year in the Caribbean and would have had our plans affected).

After 45 minutes or so of freshening up, minimal unpacking and (on my part) faffing, we headed out to the Gastown area, which was only a short walk from the hotel.

The Salvation Army over the road from the hotel had been decorated for Christmas and there was a camera crew. I like to think they were filming a made for TV Christmas movie.

Our first stop in Gastown was the steam clock.







I liked that even though we were in a city, we could see mountains 😊

Our next priority was food! We settled in Meet in Gastown, which we had seen online.

We were seated straight away, brought water and started perusing the menu. We both fancied a big burger and I was settling on one with mc and cheese. It took us a little while, but we soon realised we had chosen a vegan restaurant. I have nothing against a vegetarian meal, but I was a little concerned how the mac and cheese would turn out and after a long day just wanted a big burger. I was also concerned by the cronut they had on the dessert menu (we all saw how vegan week turned out on Bake Off last year)

We rather sheepishly spoke to the server as we made our way out.
The problem was, we were now both hungry and a bit tired. We were both in that situation where we didnt really know where we wanted to eat or what we wanted. We borrowed some wifi from a place called Local and then walked by a few places that came up, but nothing took our fancy.

We did spot Gassy Jack on the way, who is actually from Liverpool!



Eventually, we ended up back at Local, looked at a menu and decided to eat there!

They were just opening up a new outdoor seating area. The weather was lovely and I was glad I packed my sandals at the last minute. It was nice to be able to watch the world go by we even saw a proposal, which was cute. For contrast, I also saw a very drunk man trying to control the traffic. We also did some dog spotting and rate Vancouver as a very dog friendly city. Our served brought out water for a few dogs whose owners were sat outside eating.



Once sat down, we were in much better moods! Ollie ordered a Left Field cider ($13). Ollie tried a lot of local ciders while we were away, which he enjoyed, even if we did find the alcohol quite expensive in Canada. I contemplated a glass of mystery wine for $6, but thought this would make me too sleepy, so settled on water.



To start, we shared the Local Fried Chicken (LFC) - Southern-style crispy chicken with hot honey & pickle slices - $13.50



This was so good I think because it was genuinely delicious and not because we were super tired and hungry. The honey glaze over it was delicious.
For mains, we both had burgers. I had the Local Burger - Two grilled patties, melted American cheese, caramelized onions, tomato, shredded lettuce & secret house sauce - $16.50 - and Ollie had the Deluxe Burger - Smoked bacon & aged cheddar the classic way 18.25





A big portion of fries there! You could ask for extra pickles for no charge, which I appreciated. The burgers were exactly what we wanted after a long day.

We found the servers in Canada friendly, and not trying too hard. In most cases, water was brought over straight away without asking, which is always a plus from me.

We declined dessert (other plans) and had a look at some of the gift shops around gas town. We came across this friendly fellow-



We did eye up a dessert place that served vanilla soft serve in a pastry horn, but I thought this was a bit heavy after our dinner.
Instead, we walked over passed Canada place (the cruise port) to Bella Gelateria. We shared a tub with belgian chocolate brownie and burnt caramel ($9.45). We enjoyed this while walking around the waters edge.



The drop



The Wonder will be here on Monday!





We walked the Canadian trial, which I thought would be longer than it was. We enjoyed some of the Canadian place names.











I was seriously flagging at this point, so we started walking back to the hotel, via a liquor store of course.

We bought 2 bottles of asti ($14.99 each) and 2 bottles of prosecco ($12.99 each) to take on the cruise (you can take 2 bottles each on board) and Ollie bought a single can of cider to enjoy in the room. The cashier asked for 2 forms of ID, which apparently is standard in BC. To be honest, Im not sure we got IDd again for alcohol this trip. We showed her our driving licences and then she was happy with a copy of our passport. I think she said a credit card would have been fine its more something to verify the name on the photo ID.

It was now back to the hotel, which now had Christmas trees all down the road! I made it to about 9pm Vancouver time (5am UK time) until I fell asleep, which is pretty good I thought!
Our first impressions of Vancouver were really positive and we enjoyed our stroll around this evening. Its always exciting at this point on a trip knowing all the fun is ahead of you!

Day 2 - Vancouver & Stanley Park

Edited at 08:00 PM.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 01:08 AM  
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Vinniecat
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What a fantastic travel day. Sounds like you packed a lot in. Very interesting read, I am looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 01:53 PM  
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panspeep
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Looking forward to following along, a trip like this is on my list. Can I ask if you booked this all independently or through an agent?
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 08:37 PM  
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Melanie R
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Great start - I loved Vancouver and will return some day, looking forward to reading more 😊
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Unread 13 Jan 20, 07:41 PM  
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Scruffette
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Originally Posted by Vinniecat View Post
What a fantastic travel day. Sounds like you packed a lot in. Very interesting read, I am looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.
Thanks for reading A smooth travel day fortunately!

Originally Posted by panspeep View Post
Looking forward to following along, a trip like this is on my list. Can I ask if you booked this all independently or through an agent?
I would definitely recommend a trip like this! We booked everything independently. The cruise was booked directly with Disney and flights directly with Air Transat. Most of our hotels were found through Trivago and booked through sites like Expedia, Booking.com and Agoda. Let me know if you have any questions at all

Originally Posted by Melanie R View Post
Great start - I loved Vancouver and will return some day, looking forward to reading more 😊
Thanks for reading I loved Vancouver too - such a friendly city!
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Unread 19 Jan 20, 12:31 PM  
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So glad I found this report as we're off to Vancouver in September and I don't normally read the cruise reports - will have to investigate them now!

Great travel day and looking forward to the rest
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Unread 20 Jan 20, 07:24 PM  
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Originally Posted by anji View Post
So glad I found this report as we're off to Vancouver in September and I don't normally read the cruise reports - will have to investigate them now!

Great travel day and looking forward to the rest
Welcome Hopefully the Vancouver day will be useful!
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Unread 25 Jan 20, 09:51 AM  
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Oh exciting I plan to do this one day.

I agree about Oscar movies, I usually avoid them.

Shared bathrooms are okay for the young!
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