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Canada - Vancouver - Day 18

A much more gentle start to the day saw me actually having to wake Karen up to ensure we didn't miss breakfast.

Then we headed off to the Capilona Suspension Bridge Park.

Now as the crow flies this is only about 9 miles from our Hotel. Yet due to the road network it took us over a hour to get there. Vancouver needs a fast outer ring road like the M25 and it needs it now. It seems the main route from North to South or vice versa is literally through the centre of downtown. This is plain crazy. What makes it worse is that as the roads are on a grid system, every crossroads has a set of lights. They do not appear to be linked in system.

Then the lanes go from 3 to 2 to 1 to 3 back to 2 at seemingly random intervals. Then there appears to be only 2 bridges crossings over the main stretch of water. Gridlock ensures when 3 roads merge to cross single file over the bridge. Build either another bridge or a tunnel - now! The government could afford it with my tip alone from not putting most signs in French as well.

We therefore arrived much later than anticipated with me in a very chilled state from the relaxing drive. It was chaotic in the car park and even worse when we got through the entrance with our student tickets. The bridge itself was impressive but chock a block full of people. In my very calm mood I wondered why we were not given timed slots to cross. Of course everyone including us wanted to stop and take photos which may it all worse and back up.

The walk across itself is straightforward and not scary at all. In fact with the trickle of water below us, crossing the bridge which is 70m up was a bit of a non event. The bridge looked far more spectacular when viewed from different angles off the bridge rather than on it.

We grabbed a hot drink the other side of the canyon and then walked the Nature Trail which was interesting. I then persuaded Karen to try the Tree Tops Trail which was even better. Being high up in the canopy of the giant cedars was impressive both looking down and up at how high the trees actually went (250ft). I hugged a couple of trees to thank them as you are supposed to.

After walking back over the now less busy bridge we went and walked the Cliff Trail. This was even more impressive than the suspension bridge in my opinion both in its construction and sheer drops below.

By now we were hungry so we had a scone each for lunch plus a welcome cup of tea from one of the many food outlets. I though the whole place was rather well done in a tasteful sort of way. It was a lot of money to get in and they should stagger the entry somehow, but we both enjoyed it.

Another of my random thoughts for the day following on from getting rid of the French signage was why in English do we bother with silent letters? Think of all the money that could be saved round the world on signs if we got rid of them. We spent a while thinking of them (words like Gnome, Pneumonia, Know) to amuse ourselves.

Then we drove to Stanley Park, the number one place to visit in Vancouver on Trip Advisor. It is also rated as the number one urban park in the world.

We started at Prospect Place which was pleasant enough in the sunshine overlooking Lionsgate Bridge. From here we drove to the Westerly part of the park and sat on a bench for a while looking out to sea. Then we went to the Totem Pole section, paid to park again and wandered around the area along the sea wall for a hour. There were lots of other areas we could have visited but we had had enough for the day.

It is a good park, but number one in the world? Parking alone for me would knock it down several places. There is no free parking, not even on the side of the road. That means even if you want to jump out of the car to look at the view you have to pay. We saw 3 different car park attendants at different points checking cars, even those on the side of the roads. At over £2 per hour to park, it wasn't even cheap.

We ate tonight again at The Flying Beaver. The food was good again and we enjoyed the ambience and setting. The fact that we had to go there again is another of our complaints about Vancouver. Where are all the restaurants? Where do the locals eat? The few downtime are all pretentious and expensive. There are few that we can find out of town. Where is the equivalent of a restaurant row? In the USA you know when you find out of town shops you find restaurants - but not here. Now wonder The Flying Beaver is so popular, there just isn't anyway else to eat.

However my impressions of Vancouver today have again improved. It is a nice City but still not as nice as we thought. Perhaps our expectations were too high. We feel we have almost done it and are ready to move on.

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