looked obsessively clean. Unlike London, the streets weren't
pebble-dashed with gum. And the air was so fresh that the first deep
breaths made my head swim. None of this is surprising considering
Vancouver is cradled between the sparkling Pacific Ocean and the gentle
tranquillity of the Rocky Mountains.
sir. Not as impressive
as the mountains, but still a welcome break, the Fairmont Vancouver
provided much needed shelter from the rain. My palatial corner room on
the 14th floor was so large that I could hear my voice echo. From the
window I looked out over Burrard Inlet, where seaplanes skim along
before soaring up in to the wrinkled grey sky.
exciting way to find my bearings so the following day I found myself
strappiing in to a 1958 six seater Beaver. The cockpit looked
alarmingly basic, but before I could protest, we were up and away on
our 25- minute flight.
bounced through the air, I concentrated on the views of downtown, West
Vancouver's million-dollar mansions, and the ferocious snow-capped
wilderness beyond. Who needs peanuts and an in-flight movie? After the
Beaver had landed, I took the rather more sedate Seabus to the north
shore in search of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the longest and
highest suspended footbridge in the world, stretching a precarious
450ft across a 230ft deep gorge. One of the most well known outdoor
attractions in Vancouver, it has had a number of celebrity visitors
including amongst them the Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monroe and Baronness
Thatcher who was so impressed that she did it twice. The Iron lady
might not have been one for turning, but as I gazed into the nebulous
mist that swirled in the canyon and the raging waters 230ft below me,
my stomach was.
satisfied the Indiana Jones in me, I collected my 'I made it across!'
certificate of bragging rights, and caught the No 8 bus to the Grouse
Mountain gondola, where 3,700ft up on the top of Grouse, I found an
impressive complex that included shops, a gourmet restaurant, a skating
rink, ski runs, and breathtaking panoramic views. Close by was a bear
sanctuary which housed and looked after four orphaned bears. After
being told that the bears would be hibernating, it was a great shock
when Grinder the grizlly leapt up and perched a few metres away. It was
thrilling to see a grizzly so close up, but it was also heartstoppingly
scary. Appearing to be made from a combination of chicken wire and
garden canes, the fence was also however, electric. I doubted it would
have held Flopsie the bunny, let alone Grinder the grizzly. Back at the
Fairmont, I struck up a better relationship with Mavis, the hotel's
lovable lobby dog, and together we set about exploring Vancouver on
foot. It was delightful strolling through downtown with its superb
architecture, open spaces and inviting coffee shops. Many of the
towering blocks are residential, so Vancouver feels more lived in than
most other Canadian cities. In contrast, Gastown, the oldest area of
the city, is a bustling place. Another must see attraction is the
replica steam clock on Water Street which sounds every fifteen minutes.
There are a huge amount of foodstuffs, souvenirs and other products for
sale at Granville Market.
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