September 2005

Our vacation in Canada

Thursday September 15

Somehow, we never manage to go to bed early if we really have to. We had to get up at 3:30, and it was only after midnight that we had finished packing our luggage. Anyway, we did get up on time… At 4:45, we were ready to go and got on the 5:07 train to the airport in Zaventem. It took us 1:20 more than expected to get to Toronto via Vienna, due to a problem with the plane we took from Vienna (in fact, the air-conditioning in the cargo space in which a dog had to be transported had to be repaired first, otherwise the poor dog would have frozen to death).

Why in English?

We decided to write this journal in English so that more people (family members in different countries or occasional visitors of our website) can understand it without having to do numerous translations!



Finally, after travelling 6 hours back in time, we arrived in Toronto at 16:10 to get to Nina and Mark’s place at about 17:45. Nina is Myriam's German friend from her University Studies in Erlangen, Germany, who is married to Mark from Canada. We only found Nina at home with whom we left to do some grocery shopping for the weekend. In the supermarket, we were astonished by the freshness of the groceries and the fact that they were sprinkled with water at regular intervals. Also, it feels nice to have large aisles to walk about when looking for whatever you are willing to buy. After we came back, Mark returned from work and so we all had dinner together at their place, on the terrace, since it was nice and warm.

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Friday September 16

What a start for a holiday. It rained the whole day long. Mark and Nina had to go to work and we decided to stay a little bit in the house, hoping the rain would stop and resting a bit from the journey. When at noon we took off, we decided that our first Canadian investment would be an umbrella (actually, it was a Chinese investment, since all cheap products are imported from China, which gave us our first taste of oriental feeling in the West). We did some more shopping and above all walking (especially because thanks to Erik we headed in the wrong direction in Younge Street) before arriving at downtown Toronto by the underground.

The good thing about the combination downtown Toronto and rain is that you don’t really have to be outside getting wet. You can walk all through the city centre without ever being exposed to the outside world, which is, as we were told, very handy during the cold winter. However, the large network of underground malls doesn’t give you a good impression of what the city looks like.

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In the evening, we had to get out in the rain to meet Mark and Nina at Mark’s work. Nina picked us up there and we went to an Indian restaurant they wanted to try. The food and atmosphere were nice, and they said they’d go back there.

Saturday September 17

Like in Europe, the weather changes quite quickly in Canada. After Friday’s showers we now had a beautiful day. Mark and Nina went for a run in High Park while we took it a lot easier using their ping pong-table. Ironical, actually, we have one at home but haven’t played once since we moved about a year ago

The nice weather was very welcome, because we had planned a visit to the Niagara Falls with Mark and Nina. At around 11:00 we were all ready to go. Mark and Nina drove us to the falls, after stopping at High Park where there was some kind of small organic market where we bought some food for lunch. After a drive of about one hour we reached the falls. We were quite impressed by the beauty and the power of the falls, especially Erik since Myriam had already seen them when she lived in Canada, 17 years ago.

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Click here to see the Niagara Falls on Google Maps

Canadians are rather proud of their falls, and for reason. Not only is the Canadian part of the falls (horseshoe falls) more beautiful than the American part, but a walk on the Canadian bank gives a splendid view on both the American and Canadian falls.

As impressive as the falls are, so disappointing is the circus they have built around it. An imitation-Las Vegas invites you “to burn as much money as possible” (to say it in Mark’s words) in casinos, gaming halls and fast-food stores. A sheer contrast with the beauty of nature for which people initially come to the place.

Leaving this superficial world for what it is, we went about a century back in time in a town called Niagara on the Lake. This is one of these typical towns that apparently hasn’t changed for a very long time. Although there were quite some people in the streets, this town, with its old wooden shops and houses, breathes out a certain serenity which is sometimes hard to find these days. After having eaten here we drove back to Toronto.

Sunday September 18

Another sunny day, which Mark and Nina couldn’t enjoy, because they both had to work. We went to see the big needle which dominates Toronto’s skyline, the CN-tower, which is with 553m the highest built structure in the world. We had a perfect view from the first look out level at 346m. However we could not see the mist of the Niagara Falls, which should be visible from the CN-tower on a very, very clear day. Maybe we could have seen it if we had gone up even higher to the sky pod at 447m, but as Mark had explained, one cannot really notice a difference between very high and very high plus 100m. and so it’s preferable to spent your money on a good meal instead. Erik went for an adrenaline boost by walking over the glass floor and looking down 342m between his feet. Myriam’s stomach, however, was not willing to cooperate with her feet and therefore her whole body refused to take the challenge of walking on glass suspended high in the sky.

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The squirrels of Canada

Shortly after our arrival in Toronto we noticed ‘our’ first squirrel. At that time we were still surprised (‘look, a squirrel!’) but there are so many of them that after a while we got used to them. We did however notice some differences between squirrels in different regions.

In Toronto most squirrels are black or grey and you can find them almost everywhere where there is some green. Much like the city itself, Montreal squirrels have a more European look. Lots of them are red/grey. They are less numerous than in Toronto because there is less green than in Toronto. We also saw an albino squirrel.

Regarding the Quebec ones, they must have suffered the most because not only they are small, but they seem to be pretty shy as well. They are mostly red/brown. As for the west coast, in Vancouver they are pretty small as well. It’s only here that we learned the difference between a squirrel and a chipmunk, thanks to a little boy and girl who were willing to provide these ignorant European tourists with this vital information about Canadian wildlife. Chipmunks are smaller, mostly red and brown with white spots on their backs, and unlike the squirrels large, fluffy tail they have a small but elegant tail. The ones we saw in Quebec might have been chipmunks after all.

Chipmunks are nice little creatures. Not too bright, though. At the top of Grouse Mountain, Vancouver we witnessed the following scene: a couple of chipmunks trying to climb up some kind of wild grass to get to the grains that grow on top. Only they never reached their goal for the grass stalks were not strong enough to support their weight, so they kept falling down when they reached a certain height at the stalk. And that over and over again...

After having regained solid soil under our feet, we walked to China Town, where we bought some cashew nuts (way less expensive than in Europe) and then on to Kensington Market. Kensington Market is one of Toronto’s ‘cool’ neighborhoods. The place is a bit hippie-like with lots of nice boutiques, organic food shops, and bands playing music in the streets. One could wander for hours in the streets just sniffing up the relaxed atmosphere. Since we were tourists with limited time we did not do so. We continued our walk to the campus. University squirrels appeared to be either very hungry or rather used to the presence of people. They came eating out of Myriam’s hands.

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At 16:00 we were to meet Nina somewhere in the Greek part of the city. She took us to the Beaches for a long walk in the sun. Afterwards we had a meal at Mark and Nina’s place after which we didn’t have a hard time falling asleep, tired as we were.

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Monday September 19

First thing for Erik to do on this sunny day was to pick up the car we rented. Since the pick-up place was only a short walk from Mark and Nina’s place, we were ready to go and leave Toronto at 10:00. After a long, long drive (543km) we arrived at about 17:00 in Montreal, were we chose a hotel from our tourist guide. It was a cheap hotel, and that was the only advantage. It was rather old and dirty.

Our first impression of Montreal was that it’s pretty chaotic compared to Toronto. People seem to be louder and drive less disciplined, and maybe that’s why they say that Montreal has some kind of European touch…

Our first moves outside the hotel were to go to Chinatown (which is nowadays more Vietnam town). We had dinner in a rather cheap Vietnamese restaurant, after which we had a nice nocturne walk through Vieux Montréal, the historical centre where shops are open until late in the evening.

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Tuesday September 20

Today we had an alternation of cloudy and sunny periods with a hard wind. In order to have a little less back problems than the preceding days, Myriam started the day with some exercises. We went to see the Vieux Port which didn’t look that vieux to us. Although it is mentioned in most Montreal tourist guides, we found it nothing spectacular. After having visited the Basilique Notre Dame we went to the tourist info where we were helped very kindly. The lady made a reservation for a motel in Quebec for the next stage of our trip on the next day and explained us what we really had to see in Montreal, including Rue de la montagne if we felt like eating Japanese. What we did.

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What a coincidence. Like Toronto, Montreal has an Eaton centre as well, and just as we walked by some tiny raindrops made us feel like going inside. The underground galleries led us to the subway which we had to take to go to the Parc Olympique. This area is certainly worthwhile a visit. Of course there is the Stade Olympique if you like to see sport stadiums, but what we found more interesting was the Biodôme, Insectarium and Jardin Botanique. First we enjoyed wandering through the four American ecosystems that are sheltered in the Biodôme: Tropical Forest, Laurentian Forest, St. Lawrence Marine ecosystem and the Polar Worlds of the Arctic and Antarctic. Although their habitats are artificially created, it is still a beautiful experience to see all kinds of animals like tropical birds, monkeys, piranhas, a beaver, penguins and many more. Like we hadn’t already seen enough animals, we went to the Insectarium afterwards. This huge collection of dead and living insects is situated straight in the Jardin Botanique, which in fact is much too big for a short visit. We only had time to see the Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden (which was decorated with hundreds of handmade silk lanterns) and the Exhibition Greenhouses where we had a nice chat with three women working there.

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That evening we decided not to eat Asian. A good choice, since both the food and service in La Brioche Lyonnaise were very good. The waitress had suffered from the same disease that Myriam thought she had for a long time, Candidose, and that creates ties…

And so, after having walked for hours and hours, ended another exhausting but very interesting day.

Wednesday September 21

Second stage in our Tour de Canada: Montreal – Quebec (270km) via Trois Rivičres. By taking just a small detour we arrived on one of the oldest roads of North America, the 138, which we took from Deschambault on. According to that friendly lady at the tourist info at Montreal, there were lots of nice, typical Canadian houses along this scenic land road, however we felt a little disappointed by Canadian architecture. So, at Donnacona we took the highway again in order to make it to Quebec for lunch.

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After we noticed that parking your car in Quebec is quite an expensive experience, we found out that going to a restaurant there is not given for free either. But still, comparing them to European restaurants we had no reason to complain.

The rest of the afternoon we spent walking through the city centre, visiting some of the main attractions (Bâteau Frontenac, Citadelle, Parc des Champs de Bataille). At a certain moment it was just like we were back in Europe again as we walked through Quebec’s own version of Paris’ Mont Martre, a narrow street with lots of portrait painters.

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After having done some shopping at the market at the Vieux Port we decided to call it a day and search the motel in Beauport. Although situated only a few kilometers outside of Quebec, this motel was not so easy to find.

Thursday September 22

What is a real vacation without a few days of rain? We found out that in Canada, when it rains, it rains a LOT. Fortunately we had lots of good weather as well, but this day was one to quickly forget about. So what do you do when you get the feeling that all rain clouds of the earth seem to have gathered just above your head? You adapt your plans.

The original plan was to visit an Indian village and a waterfall (one that’s higher than the Niagara Falls) on Thursday, and then drive from Quebec to Toronto on Friday. And, in the morning, as they forecasted dryer weather for Thursday afternoon, we still wanted to stick to our plan. Until in the afternoon, when leaving the motel with the windscreen wipers on position ‘high’, we decided that this didn’t make any sense and that we might as well already leave Quebec on Thursday instead of Friday. So we forgot about the Indian village and the waterfall, packed our bags and took off one day earlier. Since we now were one day ahead on our original schedule, we decided to pay Ottawa a visit. The rest of Thursday we spent driving in the direction of Ottawa until it was getting late. After having driven 315km we took a motel somewhere halfway between Montreal and Ottawa. The rest of the trip would be for the day after.
Friday September 23

Visiting Ottawa turned out to be the perfect plan. The Canadian capital is certainly worth a visit and it fit very well in our new planning. We think Ottawa is not the kind of city where you might want to stay for a couple of days. Especially when you only have two weeks to visit the whole country, one day is enough to get an impression of the capital. We found out that we had left the rain behind in Quebec as we drove the remaining 133km on the pretty empty highway to Ottawa.

The parliament building not only looks like its British counterpart, it sounds like it as well as bypassers are treated to the famous Big Ben tune. This was the starting point of our walk, which first led to the Byward Market. If you’re looking for lots of stands with garlic and pumpkins, this is the place to be (at least in this time of year). In any other case, it is just a nice collection of colourful stands that breathes a nice and cozy atmosphere. Continuing our walk, we were attracted by this huge metal spider which seemed to be the guard of a cathedral with metallic spires. The whole looked a bit surrealistic to us. Could it be that the spires were piled with metal spider eggs? We decided not to find out and walk on. After having seen the viewpoint near the bridge we walked back by a park to the start point near the parliament, which ended our short visit to Ottawa.

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The rest of the afternoon we spent driving back to Toronto (415 km). As the highway was pretty boring, we decided to stop at Thousand Islands near a campsite called Ivy Lea. Situated north of Lake Ontario, where the St. Lawrence River begins, this region consists of countless islands, some of them so small that there’s only place for one house on them. Here nature is all around and the view on the water is sensational. Beside squirrels and chipmunks, we also saw a heron, a woodpecker and insects that look like grasshoppers but fly like butterflies.

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Our experiences with driving in Canada

Driving a car in Canada is a bit different from driving in Europe. Actually it is quite fun. After getting used to the automatic transmission (one can experience a certain superfluous feeling in the left feet) the first thing you notice is that other drivers are more relaxed. Even in crowded metropoles like Toronto you will experience less horn blowing than in any medium-sized European city.

Unlike the city centers, the highways between cities are pretty empty. This makes it hard to respect the 100km/h speed limit, especially when you consider the huge distances between Canadian cities. Many people drive somewhere in between 120 and 130km/h, and so did we. Radar controls are rare compared to European standards.

Something that is hard to figure for us, Europeans, is the Canadian stop-sign at crossings. When you see this sign you have to stop, and the first car that arrived at the crossing gets to drive first, whether he or she was coming from the left, the right or the opposite direction. This can lead to confusing situations where people look each other doubtfully in the eyes before one of them decides that he/she must have been the first to arrive at the crossing.

Another typical North-American phenomenal is the yellow line that separates the driving directions. You should always stay on the right of a yellow line. If you see one on the middle of the road, it means that traffic will come from the opposite direction left of the line. If the yellow line is at the extreme left of the road, you are driving on a one-way road. Kind of logical if you think of it. If you happen to see a yellow line at your right, you better turn around.

We had never heard of collector highways until we found ourselves on one in Toronto. These lanes run along a major highway and are ment to tunnel traffic from one major highway to another. If you want to take an exit, you first have to cross all the lanes of the collector.

A European drivers license might not be accepted by all car rental compagnies in Canada. It is better to have an international one.

Finally we arrived at 19:30 at Mark and Nina’s place in Toronto and had another great dinner with them, telling them about all we had seen and done in the past week.
Saturday September 24

After having rented a car for 6 days, the moment had come to drop it off since we were about to fly to Vancouver. Kind of relieved that everything had gone all right, we drove it to the drop off place near the airport after which we flew to the other side of Canada. Luckily, the sky was very clear as we flew westbound, and so we had a beautiful view on the Canadian Rockies. You really get a good impression of the immense size of the country when you can see what’s going on on the ground. And besides, after having landed at 15:25 Toronto-time, we had traveled three hours back in time so it really was only 12:25.

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Click here to see this place on Google Maps

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First we took a bus to the city. We found out that this city is really BIG. What seemed to be a short distance on the map between the bus stop and the bed and breakfast we had booked, appeared to be a very long walk. Luckily, when asking where we were, a friendly Philippine woman was so kind to drive us there in her car.

Robert, the Chinese owner of the bed and breakfast, had a surprise for us: our room wasn’t ready. But he assured us that it would be ready in the evening. Hoping for the best, we left his place and first went to the tourist info in downtown Vancouver. Afterwards we went to see the Stanley Park. This huge park is a must if you are in Vancouver. Besides the fact that it feels great to walk in nature so close to the city, it also has some nice attractions like the totem poles.

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After having eaten we went to the English Bay Beach Park to see the sun go down and then it was time to go back by bus to the bed and breakfast where Robert had a new surprise. We still couldn’t get the room. Apparently there were some problems with the washroom. In fact we believe that he’d simply forgotten that we had booked a room. Robert is a good man, with great laughs, but short of memory. But never mind, he instantly came up with a solution. We could get a room at his daughter Stella’s place, at only 5 minutes walking from there. As we didn’t seem to have much of a choice, we agreed and after finishing our tea and coffee, he took us there. Robert’s solution turned out to be not so bad at all. Ok, the room was a little impersonal but at least we now had a private bathroom which we wouldn’t have had at Robert’s place. We agreed with Robert that we could stay in that room for the rest of the week. We didn’t have a breakfast room either, but the second day Robert supplied us with bread and jam for the whole week and besides, Myriam couldn’t have much of what Robert had to offer for breakfast anyway, due to her multiple food allergies.

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Sunday September 25

Physically the hardest day: We climbed up Grouse Mountain. Ignorant of the exhaustion we were about to experience, we started the day quite relaxed. Robert came to fetch us to have breakfast at his place, for at that time we didn’t have anything to eat in our room. In the bus and seabus we took to the foot of Grouse Mountain we had a chitchat with two French girls, who, maybe influenced by us, decided to go up by feet instead of taking the gondola.

Grouse Mountain rises about 1200m. The low-budget solution for enjoying the spectacular view of Vancouver and English Bay is to hike up. The hiking-trail leads over the forest-covered mountainside and is partly equipped with steep stairs. It takes a good sportsman less then an hour to go up (the record stands somewhere around 26 minutes) but we were already glad that we made it in 1:50. The worst is that most of the time you don’t have a clue how far you are. Distance indicators are placed very rarely. It was kind of frustrating to find out that after many, many steps we were only halfway… Anyway, we were very proud that we made it. It felt great, looking down over Vancouver, to realise that we had come this high only by feet. Up there, the world was divided in two camps: those who did it by feet (the sweaty ones) and those who took the gondola (the clean, well-dressed ones). We couldn’t help but feel some kind of superiority over those last.

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While eating and enjoying a well-deserved rest at the restaurant’s terrace, we saw the two French girls arriving with whom we talked a little more.

The panoramic view is not the only attraction of Grouse Mountain (though the main one). There are also these beautiful chainsaw-carved statues to admire, and the Lumberjack Show is certainly worth a visit. This demonstration of some of the old lumberjack techniques is brought in an original way with lots of humour. After having climbed the actual peak of the mountain and having seen some wolves and a grizzly bear (held in captivity) it was time to go down again, this time by gondola since hiking down is more dangerous and exhausting than hiking up.

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That evening, we finished the day with a dinner at a typical Chinese restaurant near our bed and breakfast. Everything in the restaurant was written only in Chinese (except for ‘washroom’) and there were merely Chinese customers, sitting around large tables, taking the food off revolting plates. Ignorant of the Chinese traditions, we both ordered a dish which actually was meant to be enough for a whole family. Flexible as we are, we adapted the North American doggy-bag habit so we still had something to eat the next day.

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Monday September 26

A merely sunny day with a lot of walking. The bed and breakfast is situated near the Queen Elizabeth Park, a beautiful and colourful park of 55 hectares. Located on top of a hill, some distant mountains are visible and this makes you almost forget about the noise and crowdedness of the surrounding metropolis. Apparently the park is also highly appreciated by lots of Asians who do their almost ritual exercises for body and mind at the centre of the park in the morning sun.

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Not far from there we visited the Van Dusen Botanical Garden. A beautiful garden, but we were a little disappointed that some of the ‘attractions’, like a waterfall and a fountain, were not working at that moment. Besides, we were kind of saturated with plants and trees after first having visited the Queen Elizabeth Park.

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We decided to take the bus to Granville Island (which is in fact a peninsula). Once used for heavy industry, this area is now a tourist attraction thanks to its huge market, galleries and shops. After having strolled it’s streets we went for a long walk to Old Hastings Millstone, a museum. And once more, we were fooled by the scale of our map. Only a couple of centimeters on our map, the walk which led through Vancouver Park, Kitsilano Beach Park and Jericho Beach Park took us so long that the museum had closed by the time we got there… Tired of walking, we took the bus back to the bed and breakfast were we chatted a little with a Suisse guest before finishing the Chinese food of the day before in our room.

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We noticed that people in Vancouver are very friendly and helpful. You only have to pull out your city map and have a puzzled look at the street names to find someone asking you were you want to go and telling you what bus you should take. You can also have conversations in the bus with strangers, without seeing this ‘What does he want from me, leave me alone’ expression on their faces. For us Europeans it was almost shocking to find bus drivers actually making jokes and laughing.

Tuesday September 27

Another sunny day: Perfect to take the bus and seabus and pay Lonsdale Market and Shops a visit. This is the place where we bought a souvenir for Linda, the girl taking care of our plants and fishes at home. A Frenchman made us a necklace, made of a rice grain with her name written on it, while giving us his view on the society of Vancouver. Unlike in Toronto, he explained, Asians in Vancouver don’t really integrate. Even Asians with a different nationality don’t mix together. Something we would be able to affirm later on.

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Inspired by the well-succeeded haircut we had in Mexico once, we decided to have one here in Vancouver also. Well, Vancouver isn’t Mexico. It was a failure for both of us...

The rest of the afternoon we spent in Stanley Park, to visit the part that we hadn’t seen yet. We enjoyed it even more than the first time, as there were less people and we felt closer to nature. We tried to get off the lanes until the trees became so dense that we had to return. Eventually we made it to Beaver Lake were we fed some birds out of our hands. After a long walk along the coastline of the peninsula (were we saw two raccoons) we had some Japanese food in Denman Street.

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Click here to see Stanley Park on Google Maps

Wednesday September 28

Just like Ottawa is a relatively small city but nevertheless the capital of Canada, so is Victoria much smaller than Vancouver and the capital of the state of British Columbia, located on Vancouver Island. Today we went there as it is only a boat trip away from Vancouver. Robert had arranged a daytrip for us for a price that seemed to be fairly competitive: 105$ with a Chinese tour operator. Unfortunately, good weather wasn’t part of the deal, the day started cloudy and ended in pouring rain.

What Robert hadn’t told us was that we would be in 100% Chinese company. Among 23 Chinese people we were the only ones for whom the tour operator/bus driver had to translate his endless speeches into two sentences of (bad) English… Besides, it appeared to be true what the Frenchman said, they don’t seem to be very keen on communicating with non-Chinese people. Nevertheless, we decided to make the best of it and enjoy the trip.

After a short drive in a van we arrived at the ferryboat. Fortunately the price already included the boat trip as this seems to be very expensive: 40$ for a car plus 10$ for each passenger, and this times two if you are planning on getting back again.

After an hour and a half we regained land under our feet and after another small drive we reached the centre of Victoria, where, unfortunately, mist and clouds covered the scenery. We had a quick look inside the parliament and strolled a little along the nice but cold streets in the city centre. Of course, lunch consisted of a meal in a Chinese restaurant. Sitting around the big round table, turning over the revolting plate to get hold of the delicacies, we actually had a small conversation with one of the Chinese girls for the first time that day. She told us that the only non-Chinese people with whom she ever has contact are her Canadian colleagues at work in Vancouver. We felt greatly honoured that she made an exception for us…

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That afternoon we drove away from Victoria and while most of the Chinese had a digestive nap in the minivan, the driver suddenly decided to stop for what appeared to be an important tourist attraction. We found ourselves looking at all the others, posing and taking pictures of each other in front of this big milestone indicating “Mile 0”. We were facing the very beginning of the Trans Canada Highway. To be honest, the only thing that made us take a picture was the sight of all those happy Chinese, apparently assigning great importance to this ‘monument’.

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After all the pictures had been taken we continued towards Butchard Gardens, a little north of Victoria. This beautiful garden is not so big and in fact, we didn’t have enough time to look at everything in detail, and too much time for a quick ‘take a picture and run’ kind of visit. So in one hour we’d finished the visit that concluded our city trip to Victoria. While driving back, we noticed that the insignificant drizzle we had to cope with at Butchard Gardens turned in a pouring shower so we stayed inside on the ferryboat. Unluckily, the drop-off point in Vancouver was still about a 25 minutes walk away from the bed and breakfast, so by the time we got there we were more than soaking wet…

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Thursday September 29

This was the last entire day of our holidays and it was raining cats and dogs. Just to make us feel more comfortable about having to go back home. In this type of weather, an umbrella is all right to cover a little bit your head, but the rest of your body gets drenched anyway. Despite these difficult conditions, we made it to the Museum of Anthropology by bus and partly by feet. And once more, the bus driver was in a good mood and didn’t seem to have lost his sense of humour, a fact that had also noticed a British elderly couple who was heading to the museum as well. We had some nice conversations with these sympathetic people, both in the bus as in the museum, about life, work, having children etc.

The museum contains quite a lot of anthropological artifacts, not only from North-American Indians, but from (ancient and less ancient) peoples as well. The collection of totem poles in the central hall is really impressive. An interesting fact is that artifacts continue to be made as Indian culture is still alive. We actually saw an artisan at work at the museum. One of the major items is a very recent Indian sculpture of wood, representing a crow, sitting on a giant shell containing people. According to the mythology, some Indian races believed that humanity began that way. At the very beginning, when enormous floods covered the earth partly with seas and oceans, the crow noticed this shell on the beach. He opened it and invited the people inside to come out and play with him, and so the first people arrived on land.

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We thought it would be best to take it easy for the rest of the day, for we had to spend endless hours in three different airplanes the next day. So first we had lunch in Chinatown and afterwards we went back to Robert’s place to say goodbye to him. On the way back from Robert’s to our room we picked up some fallen Maple leafs and we bought some take-away sushi to eat in our room later on. That evening we said goodbye to Stella and packed our suitcases, after which we had an early night.

Friday September 30

Regarding this day we can be brief: Flying back from Vancouver to Brussels isn’t a very exiting subject to write about. Stella had been so kind to order a taxi for us to go to the airport. Many hours and three flights later (Vancouver-Toronto, Toronto-Vienna and Vienna-Brussels), including endless waiting times at the airports, we finally arrived at Brussels, were it was Saturday evening. Only one more train to go and we would find out whether our car was still okay for we’d parked it near the railway station more than two weeks before. We felt some kind of relief when we found out that it was still there in one piece, just like the house…

And so our vacation in Canada was all over, all there was left to do was to write this journal and publish it on our website… Looking back we had a great holiday, also thanks to Mark and Nina who welcomed us very kindly and provided us with useful information for our stay in Canada!




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