vancouver, day one

We forgot to pack Allan's netbook and my little Bluetooth keyboard for my tablet isn't working, so this is going to be interesting. And annoying! But I can't travel without writing, so here goes.

We landed in Vancouver mid-day on Monday. A super friendly information person gave us directions to our hotel, and Vancouver wins the prize for best airport-to-city transportation, probably of any city we've been to. Inexpensive, fast, clean, accessible. I don't know why so many cities can't manage it, but well done, Vancouver!

We're staying at Skwachays Lodge, a social enterprise of an aboriginal community. It's gotten a lot of media attention in Canada. It's on the cusp of Chinatown, and also part of the revitalization of Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside. This means that the immediate surroundings are a bit sketchy, so if you were very concerned about that, this wouldn't be a good pick. But the room is stylish, spotless, comfortable, and full of all the good hotel amenities. As a bonus, it's a third of the price of any other decent hotel in Vancouver. 

Our first order of business was to see Tala and Diego on webcam, but between internet problems and the time difference, it didn't work. We walked into Chinatown, found a tea shop, and had some dumplings and tea. From there we strolled to Gastown, an expensive, heavily gentrified area full of upscale restaurants and bars, upscale shops, and beautiful people. Also full of panhandlers from the nearby Eastside. It's like no one can figure out anything else to do with cities. It's either hungry, homeless, marginalized people living in squalor or conspicuous affluence. 

We've seen the equivalent of Gastown in every city we've been to, and it doesn't do anything for us. One nicer element here is the shops and galleries of aboriginal artisanship. I love the silver jewelry and the paintings of the Coastal peoples.  All of it is well out of my price range, so it"s strictly for looking. 

Another interesting note were the neighbourhood banners announcing we were in "Seattle's Original Neighborhood".  We could only guess that a sitcom or movie set in Seattle is being filmed here, because as we know, "Vancouver never plays itself."

We had some disappointing food, then went back to the hotel and collapsed.  Allan was especially wrecked, having worked til 1:00 a.m. the night before.

(And I got the keyboard to work. Whew.)

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