The Big City.

Vancouver, the bustling seaside metropolis just across the Strait of Georgia from the Gulf Islands, has a truly international vibe. It was so great to be around a diverse population of urbanites in this, cleaner than average, city.

Nik’s parents, Ingrid and Dieter, were in Vancouver for a day before departing the city by rail and heading through the Canadian scenery toward Banff for a week long celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. For weeks Nik and I occilated between wanting to cross the wide expanse of the Strait of Georgia in our boat, Carmana, or anchor Carmana off Galiano Island and ferry ourselves over on foot. It was a tough decision.

Traversing the strait would be both challenging and exciting. Nik calculated that it would take about 4 hours to get across the open water. We would need to allow a few days to wait for a weather window because winds could easily blow 25 knots or higher in the afternoon. We would need to leave early and be ready for anything.

Well, being the new sailor that I am, I opted for the safer route. We anchored in Montague Harbor on Galiano Island and had a relaxing day and evening among the hundred, or so, boats enjoying the protected waters.

Early (and I’m talking 6am) the next morning, we set out in our dinghy, Carmanita, for the Galiano dinghy dock. From there we parted with our aquatic ways and head up the hill on foot, making our way to the ferry terminal on the other side of the island. Our ferry was set to sail at 8:30am, but we left ample time for the 3 mile walk. The scenery was uncannily similar to that of our home in West Sonoma County and we often joke about how funny it is to travel so far to only find places like home. We stopped for blackberry pickings and self-serve farmstand viewings. It was a nice (and long) walk.

8 o’clock rolled around and we started to get nervous. Shouldn’t we have been there by now? Several cars had passed us. Seeing as there were no buses or taxis on this small Gulf Island (duh, we would have taken one…who wants to walk in the wee hours?) we decided to stick out a thumb. No dice.

We rounded a bend and saw the terminal. Pheww! We also saw several of the cars that had passed us were in the queue to board. I don’t blame them for not stopping. There are only so many vehicle spaces on each ferry and every second counts.

Success! We made it with 15 minutes to spare!

As our ferry headed out across the Strait of Georgia, things got foggy. So foggy that the ferry did several fog toots as we floated through the white. Me thinks it would have been a milky mess to get through with Carmana! So glad we opted for the easier route. Thanks gut.

Once in Vancouver there was much more walking. We loved spending time with Ingrid and Dieter! Thank you for the delicious meals and great company! I’m bummed that I didn’t think to take photos with them using our camera. Thankfully, they have a couple nice ones though.

We stayed in the Ambassador Hotel downtown. It was a good value, especially for its location. We did a little late-night internetting, got some shut eye, and headed to Granville Island the next morning.

We love Granville Island! The Public Market is a huge building filled with delicious foods and delicacies. It’s similar to the Ferry Building in SF but much more fun, with more to look at and taste. We stocked up on yummy Italian salads and dips, a baguette, cured meats, and gourmet iced teas. Excited stomachs grumbling, we headed outside to enjoy the harbor scene, people watching, and belly filling. Granville Island is home to the Emily Carr art school, tons of interesting shops and galleries, a theater, and several restaurants. To get there we walked across a long bridge from Vancouver, but we decided to take the Aqua Bus on the way back.

After a whirlwind visit to the hustle and bustle, we were eager to head back to Galiano and climb aboard our beloved Carmana. The walk back to Montague Harbor wasn’t as bad…mostly because there wasn’t much of a walk. Thankfully, we were picked up by a nice lady who took us most of the way, and then the “Hummingbird Pub Bus” scooped us up and carried us the last leg. Stepping onto the bus was like stepping into a different reality. One minute we are peacefully walking along quiet pines and maples, then the bus doors open and we board a party. Everyone had a musical instrument and was playing along to the music. Maracas, tambourines, drumsticks, singing. It was all so fun and vibrant. The driver had a mini drum set above his rear view mirror. It was a nice end to a long day.

The next day was mmmeeeellllloooowwww. I had shin splints from all the walking and could only manage a short blackberry picking excursion on shore. The rest of the day was spent drawing, relaxing, and baking a blackberry cobbler.

The Big City was fun, but I much prefer the nature of our aquatic life.



Our ferry awaits. 


Scene of Granville from the bridge. The Aqua Buses are so cute! 



The international food court in the Public Market. 


So much fruit!! Nik is sporting the awesome hat his dad gave him. 




















Looking for a lift. 


Inside the Hummingbird Pub Bus.


Sunset row back to Carmana. 


Happy to be back on board. 


A little bit of boat eye-candy. A tug would be nice. 


Or maybe a classic woodie? 

4 thoughts on “The Big City.

  1. Hi Natalie and Nik,
    We only were able to read your blog today after our return. We loved the blog and all the photos, also Nik with his new hat. This Granville Market is unbelievable but there was no way to stop from our bus tour. We did not want to miss your arrival. Too bad for that but we enjoyed our visit with you. — We had an awesome train ride and time in Banff and the National Parks. We did a lot of walking on and off in the parks. We had different tours on a GPS with our rental car and the guide was talking, explaining etc. the whole time. We learned a lot about the area, and life of all the wild animals and nature. We could go at our own pace.
    Andrea and Scot are looking forward to their trip to meet you. They just spent a day and a night at the Safari Park here in Escondido and loved it. Love, Ingrid and Dieter

  2. “Me thinks it would have been a milky mess to get through with Carmana! So glad we opted for the easier route. Thanks gut.” I love this!

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