As far as international arrivals go, this one was dead easy. Canada collected our completed travel forms, didn’t even want to see our passport, so sadly no stamp!
We found our way to the real outdoors – it was 7:50am on a Saturday.
I had the directions on my phone mapping app and thought it was only 1km to our AirB&B for the next two nights, so plotted a walking route and off we set – confident intrepid travellers towing our suitcases. It was a quiet Saturday morning with not many people about.
East Hastings Street, right into Main, left into Keefer or Union and we’d find our place part way down Union with out any trouble.
First sign of interesting came in the form of a ragged guy zooming along in an electric wheelchair. He stopped – ‘Welcome to the jungle’ was his cheery sounding greeting.
100m further on, the footpath was covered by a construction canopy and as I picked my way past various discarded items of clothing and needles, I tried to avert my eyes and not attract any attention from the fair number of locals who had slept rough. I look up – “Mercy Mission Hostel”, another building with something about needle exchange.
Wikipedia says: The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The area, one of the city’s oldest, is notorious for its open-air drug trade, sex work, and high rates of poverty, mental illness, infectious disease, and crime. It is also known for its strong community resilience and history of social activism.
Kerry, let’s cross the street……
That side was not any better – off into the distance wasn’t any better either. Things weren’t looking good. No one gave us a hard time, we weren’t hassled for money, it just had a feeling of bad place for two strangers to be dragging suitcases through. Unwise to continue I felt.
A Police car was parked up by the road and we’d walked past it a few metres when I stopped and turned back.
“Excuse me, we’re not from around here ….”
“I’d figured that”
“We’re trying to get to our accommodation up on Union and aren’t too sure it’s wise to continue to down here. I was going to head to Main and turn there, but um, well, what’s the safest option out of here?”
“A taxi” says one
“where are you going again?” says the other.
“Here, jump in, we’ll give you a lift”
So dear readers, we arrived at our accommodation in a guaranteed very hipster and cool section of Vancouver – although not very far from the opposite – in a Police Car. It only took about five minutes drive – clearly I’d misjudged the distance and the hassle of dragging suitcases. Fail….. 🙁
Hearty thankyou’s from us and instructions that they never wanted to see us again from them, we are pleased to be a little wiser and unharmed.
Our host Jeff greeted us, but the room was not going to be ready until 3pm – that was nearly 6 hours away. He kindly looked after our luggage and we found our way back into town via the safer option of Chinatown and made it onto a Hop On Hop Off bus. Not cheap, but we did one full circuit that took at least an hour and a half, so we could work out what to do next. Back we went to the very pleasant Stanley Park – 1000 hectares of parkland in the middle of this city of many waterways. We found our way through little trails, following the mapping, yes the same mapping from earlier today…. and by the well marked signs, and up to Regency Point. Ahhhh, a Commonwealth country – how friendly and sensible they are.
This little duck had glorious colours.
This one was really hiding away and staying very still when I poking around trying to get this shot. It was great colours too. What is it? The bird has a mullet!
My fitbit records me having walked 13km today.
Vancouver is like Melbourne, in that it wins awards for being a liveable city. I can see why it’s appealing for people who don’t mind a cooler climate.