11 July 2008

2008 June 18 - Amtrak to Vancouver

See how roomy it is?

- get up far too early at 5:30 when the alarm went off, and the wake up call shrilled
- quick breakfast downstairs and load up
- walk the eight blocks to the train station ... we considered calling a taxi due to our load size, but we have a good set of wheels, and we did not want to deal with short ride attitude (i.e. small fare taxi driver attitude), nor loading and unloading ... besides which, the area feels fairly safe ... which we clear with our local porter before blindly setting off into danger ... he says we will be fine ... 10 minutes with a couple uphill blocks ... the street people were well snuggled in their concrete beds, and all the street corner toughs were plaguing some other hapless area of the city with their plaintive "You wanna magazine?" entreaties
- the King's Street Amtrak station is large and slightly disorganized, though part of this is due to the reconstruction planned for the building
- We found all the Amtrak employees very helpful, as we have lots of questions
- The train is well appointed and comfortably laid out, and we have so much maneuvering room ... so much nicer than a plane, and no rigmarole to work through
- We do, however, have the bratty youngest of four throwing a fit to our left, his name is Justin, his favorite word is 'NO!', and I don't know the names of his siblings because all I hear is 'Justin stop', 'Justin don't', and other similar themes. The other kids seem fairly well behaved, let us hope he turns out half as well. From this seat, things don't sound promising.
- Customs trip through Vancouver train station wasn't bad, one of the agents was handling a very large, but well behaved black lab, who stayed for a while at one of our bags ... the one all of our dogs rub up against
- trek to the sky train next door, a raised monorail, lots of people, and while they did not want to move out of our way, they didn't fumble (or grumble) too much
- walk several blocks, about ten, to get to our hotel but because they are full up we can't check in until later ... dump baggage with porter for holding room

- walk down to 'Taste of India' for lunch; good food but not necessarily recommended for Vegans, if the lady's very broken English is right, only two menu items can be made with tomato rather than yogurt or dairy sauce, and both of them are eggplant based - tasty meal with a small rice delivery - we asked for more and got charged for a half order ... I guess you aren't supposed to eat much rice, or rice costs have REALLY spike

- we continue heading NW down Burrard, stop at a "Bubble Tea" shop where BH orders a Lemon Green Tea with Tapioca and offers some to me, I'm too full for my own, but I do sip at his after making sure there's no dairy in the product (which would be uncommon in an Asian based product)

- we then turn NE toward the harbor, and again to walk along the seawall to Canada Place trying to figure out where to go on Saturday morning ... since we enter from the seawall side, we miss all the signage in front and walk practically around the convention center before finding an appropriate down-a-vator
- this place is huge, but a nice security guard walked us through procedure as the two ships in port were calling for final boarding

- we head back to the hotel to relax and take in the evening
- BH has traveled extensively, and stayed in many hotels, this is the first one he's been in with mail slots in all the room doors

- more sink/shower laundry

- I am amazed at the number of smokers here in the city, given the large Asian population (approximately 30 %, according to tour guide), I guess I shouldn't be surprised

- dinner is a short walk to "Hon's Wun-Tun" ... I think we will be coming back several times ... I have never seen such a large vegetarian menu in an omnivore restaurant ... I'm not even sure that the menu in my local veggie Asian shop has as many options
- to boot, the food is delicious, varied, and filling

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