A stormy day…Power outages…Credit card frustration…

Across the Bay in Vancouver, we could see the Olympic Mountains. At first, we thought this was a view of clouds, not mountains.

Yesterday morning, after our usual complimentary breakfast at the Country Inn & Suites country kitchen, we sat in the comfy lounge/living room to work on the day’s post.

With the storm raging outside, we were content to be indoors while the rain pelted against the windows. It took a little longer than usual to upload the post due to our distraction over the weather. We were both curious to see what was transpiring on the news.

By 1:00 pm, I was out the door amid a few sprinkles with heavily overcast clouds for my first visit to a Target store for the first time in many years. Tom desperately needed a new pair of black jeans and always preferred Wrangler’s essential brand, which Target sells.

His old pair of black jeans had developed white lines where they were folded, most likely due to overwashing and years of use. I asked him to come along with me to try them on, and he agreed. But I knew how much he dislikes shopping and offered to go on my own.

When I arrived at the Ridgehaven Mall Target Store in Minnetonka, I could tell something was amiss. Upon nearing the entrance, I could tell the lights were out, undoubtedly caused by the storm. 

A tall totem pole in Victoria.

Entering the store, an employee greeted me, offered a cart, and explained the power outage would prevent the sale of any refrigerated foods. The current generator wasn’t sufficiently powerful to allow for ample lighting, especially toward the store’s back.

Well, the men’s jeans were located in the back of the store. Bound and determined to find Tom the black jeans, I headed toward the department; my little LED flashlight in hand. From a lack of recent use, the battery was dying, providing very little light.

Luckily, a helpful employee offered to assist me in finding the correct size in near-total darkness. Alas, we were in luck and found Tom’s oddball size, 36/30 (short for a guy at 6′ feet tall). I was thrilled. I had little interest in returning to the store on another day.

After rolling the cart around the dimly lit store, I managed to find a few toiletry items, two large handled insulated mugs (our two such mugs desperately needed to be replaced), and a big glass Ball jar to hold our iced tea. (I wasn’t about to drink one more glass made in that toxic plastic bottle Tom had been using in our hotel room).

When I went to check out, my Visa credit card was declined.  There was no reason why this should happen. I used a different card but felt frustrated. Immediately upon returning to the red rental SUV, I called the number on the back of the card only to be told my shopping in the USA was suspect. 

“Was the card stolen?” they asked. Ha! That’s ironic. Here I’m using a US credit card in the US, and its use is suspect. Then, they asked for a phone number to verify my identity when their “caller ID” showed my new SIM card number, which they didn’t recognize according to my record. 

Pond view from the moving vehicle.

The only number they had in their system was my old cell phone number from years ago. I guess I never bothered to update it using our Skype phone number in Nevada. 

When I tried to give the rep that number, oh, she didn’t like that.  When I reminded her to look up my account and our world travel with charges from many countries, in addition to many years of flawless payments paying it off each month, she reconsidered, especially when I asked to speak to a supervisor.

In moments, I answered her identity-verifying-questions correctly, she apologized and released the card for use. I supposed I understand they’re trying to prevent theft of the card, but it wasn’t very pleasant nonetheless.

A wild deer was grazing in a park.

Leaving the Target parking lot, I headed to the Payless Shoe Store in the same outdoor mall only to discover a handwritten sign on the door that read, “Closed due to the power outage.” I returned to the SUV and was back on the road again, this time to return to Macy’s for their huge sale.

As we take every possible moment of free time to shop to replace our old and worn clothing, a trip back to Macy’s was on the agenda for me. I’d already purchased enough for Tom and a few items for me, but now it was my turn to finish it up.

Within an hour, including time in the fitting room, I was done.  I’d purchased six items, valued at $397 for a paltry $94 considering all the discounts the store was offering. One item was $79, for which I paid $20. Wow! With a sale like that, I was actually enjoying the shopping and loved every item I’d selected.

Historic house in Victoria.

Now, minus a few other items, we’re almost done shopping. What a relief!  Starting fresh with new items feels rewarding and elicits more enthusiasm than one might experience by “adding” to a wardrobe instead of “replacing” a worn wardrobe.

Back at the hotel, I raved to Tom about my deals. He smiled, happy that I’d enjoyed the bargains but in his usual manner had little interest in seeing what I’d purchased. I suppose for some; it’s a “guy thing.” For others, gender is of little significance in determining who’s interested and who’s not, concerning their beloved partner’s wardrobe.

A short time after I returned to the hotel, it was time to meet TJ, Sarah, Jayden, and Nik for dinner next door at Grizzly’s. We had a great dinner together amid idle chatter among the six of us. We lingered at the table for quite a while, and then, they were on their way after goodbye hugs all around. Another good family get- together!

Hilltop view of Victoria, British Columbia.

Last night, I began preparing today’s post to bring our laptops down to the hotel’s living room while watching the Tony Awards on the big screen TV (larger than the TV in our suite). 

As tired as I was, it made no sense to wait to prepare a post in the morning when I’d have grandson Miles with me for most of the day, picking him up at 8:00 am this morning in time to return to the hotel for the breakfast which ends at 9:30 am.

I haven’t decided what he and I will do tomorrow, but I’m sure once we chat in the car, we’ll come up with a good plan. Whatever we do, Miles and I will have a good time. Tom will be gone part of the day to attend a railroad association meeting, returning later in the day.

That’s it for today, folks. Finally, I’m close to wrapping up the photos from Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia and, I apologize for not taking many photos so far here in Minnesota.  Soon, I’ll be out of photos and have to get the “show on the road” sharing new and interesting photos of Minnesota.  Hmm…maybe that’s what Miles and I can do tomorrow, weather permitting.

Have a good day! 

Photo from one year ago today, June 12, 2016:

Ants carrying off a dead gecko in Bali. For more photos, please click here.

Memorable dinner with a loyal reader in Vancouver…

Tom and I with our friend Sheila, a Vancouver reader and resident.

Several weeks ago, we received an email from a loyal reader and Vancouver resident, Sheila, who’d found us long ago due to Tom’s frequent posts on Cruisecritic.com. On many occasions, including the 24-night cruise we just completed, we’ve met many members/passengers who’ve seen Tom’s posts.

We invited Sheila to join us for dinner at our hotel in Vancouver, the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown. She was able to arrive at the Showcase Restaurant by 6:15, arriving by public transportation from work.

We became fast friends with Sheila and hoped to see her again someday.

Seeing her warm, friendly smile and hearty welcome warmed our hearts. Seated at a comfortable booth in the pleasant surroundings was conducive to our spending almost three hours engaged in animated travel chatter.

Sheila, an experienced cruiser/traveler, was rife with her own experiences we found varied and exciting. We giggled when she explained she felt she’d known us for a very long time, having read almost all of our posts over these past years.

This bed and bedding were outrageously comfortable. For the first time in weeks, we had a good night’s sleep.

Over these five years of posting, I’d hadn’t given much thought to how readers may come to know us from reading our posts; our quirks, our views, our foibles, along with the nuances of our nomadic lifestyle. 

She reveled in our openness and vulnerability in sharing such finite details of our daily lives. Still, She insisted she’s much more private about her personal life and would never be able to “spill the beans” as we do daily.  Although, Sheila didn’t hesitate to express how she enjoys our revealing candor.

Functional and comfortable lounge area in our hotel room.

It interested us to hear this perspective, and we paused for a moment that perhaps we may “overshare” at times. But, as we’ve watched our worldwide readership grow, we’ve come to realize that part of which may most appeal to readers throughout the world is that very vulnerability. 

We’re all human and seldom have an original thought, expression, or emotional response. For the same reason, many can’t stop watching reality TV (which is often scripted in parts); they may be curious to follow our posts.  The difference, though, is that nothing  about our lives is “scripted.”

View from our hotel room at the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown.

Every day, we tell it like it is; no exaggerations, no embellishments, and no fluff. As lived by these two senior citizens traveling the world, it’s simply real life because we can because we love it…a story told in a world of words and photos.

By 9:30 pm, we’d taken today’s photos, said goodbye to Sheila with hearty hugs and promises that, if and when we ever return to Vancouver, we’ll surely get together again. It was a memorable evening. Dinner wasn’t too bad either!

Thank you, Sheila, for taking the time and effort to come to see us, to share your thoughts, your vast travel stories, your warm demeanor, and your kindness. You’ll always hold a special place in our hearts.

May all of our readers find themselves in the company of someone as delightful as Sheila!

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2016:

This appeared to be a Balinese boat, called Madurai, one of many designs that we spotted in the fishing harbor in Negara, which is quite a sight to see. For more beautifully decorated boats in the harbor, please click here.

Late posting from Vancouver, British Columbia…Travel day behind us…

Tom’s photo of this unreal scene of sailboats in Seattle.  Wow!

It’s 5:30 pm Monday. After dropping off our bags after the three-hour drive from Seattle to Vancouver, we took off on foot in the rain in the same manner typical for Vancouver residents, hoofing it to the next location.

We were searching for a pharmacy and a vitamin store to replenish my fast-dwindling supply of probiotics and supplements, now that I’m totally committed to treating my condition with a more natural approach as opposed to traditional medicine.

Ships in the harbor in Seattle.

Getting off the ship to meet the 9:00 am SUV driver at pickup location #2 at the Port of Seattle was relatively seamless. Our disembarking #4 allowed us easy and quick access to the baggage area, where we quickly found our awaiting checked bags.

Since we weren’t flying, we’d actually filled the yellow Costco bag with our recently washed and folded laundry we’d had done on the ship. With a plan to do more laundry in Vancouver, we’d be in good shape clothes-wise for the upcoming Alaskan cruise, which boards in less than 48 hours.

Last photo of RC Explorer of the Seas on which we had an exceptional cruise.

In Vancouver, there are several hotels with the word “Pinnacle” in their name. Due to my error when ordering the driver, I’d accidentally selected the wrong “Pinnacle,” and our driver ended up delivering us to a hotel we’d hadn’t booked.

With the help of a staff member at the wrong Pinnacle, we were given a map with directions to the 20-minutes-away correct Marriot Pinnacle Downtown. Apparently, they’d encountered this situation in the past.

Lopsided photo of the Seattle Space Needle from the SUV as we maneuvered through traffic on Monday morning.

By 1:00 pm, we reached our hotel, checked in after being given two upgrades, including a large corner junior suite and free WiFi in the room that usually requires a US $7.95 a night charge. We couldn’t have been more thrilled.

We’d booked the two nights using “free” credits we’d accumulated on the Hotels.com link on our site. The only out-of-pocket expense we’d bear for the hotel would be meals and tips.

Tom managed this better shot of the Seattle Space Needle when there was an opening between skyscrapers.

Tom moaned a little when he had to reach into his wallet for US cash to pay the bellman for delivering our bags to the room. After almost two years in and out of Australia, where tips aren’t tendered or expected when employees are paid a “livable wage,” it wasn’t easy for him to accept the huge tips paid for services in North America.

As per the agreement for the driver that delivered us from Seattle to Vancouver, a 20% tip was added to the bill. At the cost of US, $550 for the three-hour ride, another $110 was tacked on. George was an excellent driver, and we could hardly flinch over the excess fee.

Zooming along the freeway in Seattle.

After speaking with the concierge, we concluded that doing our laundry at a laundromat in Vancouver would not be an option. The only such facility would have resulted in close to $100 in taxi fares for the distant location.

We investigated the cost of having the laundry done at the hotel, but that is $8.50 per shirt, more than what we paid for shirts I purchased at the Gap Outlet store in Lahaina, Maui. 

Cloudy and rainy with fog rolling in.

We decided to do our laundry in Vancouver and wait to have it done on the upcoming cruise. As Captain’s Club Elite members on Celebrity, we’re each allowed one 20 item bag of laundry at no cost. That works for us. 

Most likely, we’ll be bringing dirty laundry to Minnesota to wash in the laundry facilities located in our hotel. The availability of laundry facilities will be a big plus for us during the six-week stay.

Fluffy clouds rolling through the hills and forests in Seattle.

After we were situated in our hotel room and deciding not to unpack other than clothes for the next two days, we took off for the pharmacy and supplement stores, each of which we huge distances apart.

Preferring not to spend more money for transportation after sitting so long in the SUV, an umbrella and a very long walk was in order. My Fitbit easily surpassed 10,000 steps today. 

Desperately needing new shoes offering some support (which I’ll purchase in the US soon), the walking uphill in the rain for a few hours wasn’t particularly enjoyable. I hadn’t even brought the camera along, figuring I needed my hands to be free to hold the umbrella in the fierce winds and rain.

Overhead signs at the border crossing from the US into Canada. The border agent checked our passports, asking us numerous questions, and finally, let us be on our way.

The last time we were in Vancouver was in September 2014 for six nights; it rained each day except for one.  Nothing has changed since that visit. The beautiful city is shrouded in clouds and rain for most of the year. It’s nice to see all the locals out and about embracing their weather conditions, but for the long haul, it’s not for us.

Tonight at 6:00 pm, our reader Sheila will meet us at the hotel for a visit. It will be fun to meet her, and I appreciate her efforts in coming downtown to meet us. Within an hour, Sheila arrives to meet us.  

I need to get the show on the road and freshen up for the evening after being seriously soaked in the rain. We’re meeting Sheila in the highly-rated bar/restaurant located in the hotel lobby, where we’ll chat and have dinner together.

Have a lovely evening, and we’ll be back at our usual time tomorrow!

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2016:

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara, the largest of three traditional temples located in each town in Indonesia. For more details, please click here.

Tomorrow’s cruise to Hawaii…Total expenses for Vancouver…Worrying?…

Sunset in the Vancouver bay.

The departure checklist begins once again:

  • Do laundry – We found a laundry near the computer store that will do it for us for US $1.83, CAD $2 per pound in two hours.  Today, we’ll drop it off, picking it up later in the day.
  • Fill pill cases for the next two weeks
  • Do manicure and pedicure
  • Pack everything except Tuesday’s clothes and toiletries
  • Notify family that we’re leaving Vancouver – We do this each time we’re on the move
Sunny day skyline.

Gosh, this list is much shorter than in the past. We’ve already printed out cruise tickets. The hotel checkout is electronic with a copy coming to my email which I’ll save in a folder. It gets easier every time we move.

Colorful sky at sunset.

Our total expenses for Vancouver are estimated at US $2050.86, CAD $2247.35 including the hotel bill, airfare from Boston (one way), taxis, meals, laundry, and tips. At this total, our daily cost was approximately US $341.81, CAD $374.56. We’re actually pleased it wasn’t more costly than this. 

Lonely looking boxer waiting for his family who was inside the restaurant where we had lunch.

We’ve made every effort to keep our costs to a minimum during this six-day stay and the three days in Boston to offset the WiFi and beverage fees on the upcoming cruise which are typically close to US $900, CAD $986.  We’re actually, $600 under budgets expenses for Vancouver

The South Tower on the Sheraton Wall Centre where we’ve stayed since last Wednesday, with a blackbird in the photo.

There’s never a day that passes that we aren’t in tune with our expenses. It is this diligence that allows us to continue on our journey without financial stress. For homeowners and renters worldwide this type of diligence may serve them well in keeping living costs within one’s means.

Dining outdoors on an upper floor in the Sheraton Wall Centre South Tower.

Of course, there’s also the painful reality for those who’ve lost their jobs in this precarious economy or are unable to work due to illness. It’s difficult to commit to budgeting when there’s little to no income. 

On a walk, we passed by this Cannabis shop.

At some point in our lives, for some of us, we recall the angst and worry associated with not generating sufficient income to cover one’s living expenses, a dreadful state of being. For those of our readers in this precarious position we hope and pray that you find a resolution.

Distant small marina.

We always hear that good health is the most important aspect of our lives. And, unquestionably, it is. In our minds, freedom from worry is next in line. Worrying is disastrous for one’s health and sense of well being. Worrying is a roadblock to happiness.

Community garden.

That’s not to say that we don’t worry at times. Either of us can awaken during the night wrought with worry that is often exacerbated at night in the dark. Tom worries about the little things. I tend to worry about the big things. Together, we’re an “efficient worrying machine.” That’s teamwork!

Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2013:

The table was set on the well-manicured lawn. With the balmy breeze and the fire roaring, the mosquitoes stayed away, although we were well-armed wearing our BugsAway clothing. For more photos, please click here.

Finally, sunshine!…Vancouver is a beautiful city!…

Overlooking the South Tower of the Sheraton Wall Centre with the bay in the background.

Yesterday, we were thrilled to get out on a sunny day. The first stop on the agenda was a trip to a computer repair store to have Tom’s files transferred to his new laptop. His old touchscreen was severely cracked from dropping it months ago, made worse by another fall at the cruise terminal. When touchscreens go bad there is no way to manipulate the cursor, even using the keyboard, making it impossible for us to do the transfer.

We were in awe of the sunset views over the bay.

The cost for the transfer and loading Outlook (which he prefers to use) was a total of US $120.92, CAD $132.50, a bargain considering that included purchasing Office and Outlook. Tom’s relieved, to say the least, especially when all of his contacts in Outlook are all intact.  

The job only took a few hours. While we waited, we found a local restaurant, Joe’s Grill, where we had a decent lunch for under US $30, CAD $33.00, a bargain in Vancouver.

Sunset has been amazing now that the clouds have cleared.

As our time in Vancouver, winds down and as much as we “should” go out sightseeing, we just don’t feel like it.  Lately, we’ve done so much sightseeing, a reprieve is in order. 

Tom, deep in thought in the Member’s Lounge, listening to his favorite Minnesota radio podcast, Garage Logic

For us, this lovely city is a stopping point to prepare for our upcoming cruise to Hawaii to sail across the Pacific Ocean (in part) to our upcoming home for almost seven months on four of the Hawaiian islands. I suppose it’s comparable to one going “home” to repack to prepare for another “vacation.” For us, it’s just our lives, not a vacation.

What a rose!

We have no home to return to for repacking more weather-friendly clothes. We’ll wash and dry what we have, neatly folding it and placing it right back in the same, now well-worn luggage to be prepared for the next adventure. As difficult as this may sound, it is not. 

Tom purchased two bottles of Brandy from a local government-owned liquor store in Vancouver for our arrival in Hawaii where the cost will be considerably higher. The cost was US $56.71. Usually, he drinks Courvoisier(cognac), but one small bottle was US $63.88, CAD $70.

Although the past almost two months have required an enormous amount of moving about, we giggle over how often we’ve moved in such a short time which includes:

  • Madeira to Paris – flight, two weeks in Paris
  • Paris to London – Eurostar train, two weeks in London
  • London to Harwich to a transatlantic cruise – shuttle to Harwich, two-week cruise with several excursions
  • Cruise ending in Boston – three days in a hotel in Boston
  • Boston to Vancouver – flight, six days in a condo in Vancouver
  • Vancouver to Hawaii (upcoming in three days) – 12 days at sea, ending in Honolulu, Oahu where we’ll stay for 11 days, then on to Maui for six weeks, Big Island for six weeks, Kauai for four months
The green cast was generated from taking photos through the tinted windows.

This is a lot of packing and unpacking over a period of only 10 months. Surprisingly, so far, we haven’t minded. Both of us can now pack or unpack in less than 30 minutes, making the comings and goings relatively low stress.

More fountains in the hotel gardens.

We’ve developed a routine that when it’s time to leave, each of us easily slides into our unspoken part with ease and coordination. Once in a while, Tom gets grumpy on packing and moving day. I ignore him and go about my share of the tasks. Invariably, once on our way, he settles down, smiley and happy. It goes with the territory. I doubt he’ll ever change.

Neatly trimmed pavers in the hotel courtyard.

A long time ago, I learned that “we are who we are” and unless something profoundly inspires us to change, we don’t. We’re both found that in this relationship, we accept each other’s peculiarities and eccentricities. People never change as a result of nagging, complaining, or whining which neither of us is inclined to do.

As the clouds began to clear we were able to see the houses on the hills.

Don’t think for a minute that I’m easy to live with. Although I’m cheerful and calm most of the time, I have particular ways of doing things. Tom is extremely tolerant of me, never complaining about my eccentricities. Mostly, his frustrations are as a result of “things” not happening as planned or expected.   

Flowers blooming everywhere in Vancouver.

Once again, we’re in the Member’s Lounge, overlooking the city of Vancouver on a perfectly sunny day. The views around us are all the more unreal on a clear day.

Life is good.

                                              Photo from one year ago, September 21, 2013:

One year ago on this date, we dined at a local restaurant in Kenya, the Blue Marlin, located on the beach of the Indian Ocean. We were the only diners in the entire restaurant from the time we arrived until we departed a few hours later. We had a fabulous time. For details, please click here.

Another cloudy, rainy day in Vancouver…About Vancouver…Tasks of daily life continue wherever we may be…

The Vancouver Island Ranges are in the far background of this photo I took through the windows in our condo late in the day. 

We’ve had our fill of sightseeing in pouring rain. Drizzle, we can handle. Over the past few months while on the move, most days have been rainy, windy, cold and cloudy. Right now, we have no desire to get soaked through our jackets as we’ve done on several recent tours. We’re hoping for a sunny day when daylight soon breaks.

The fountain in the Sheraton Wall Centre courtyard.

The fact that we happen to find ourselves in some amazing places, certainly triggers the urge to see what each location has to offer. However, sometimes life gets in the way via rainy days and other items on the agenda, as one has when they have a fixed home and responsibilities.

Today, if it’s even partially clear, we have one thought on our minds: Tom’s computer data transfer. The screen on the old laptop is severely damaged, preventing us from manipulating the transfer of his files to our external hard drive, a zip drive, and then on to the new laptop. We need another screen from which we can operate in order to do so. We don’t have a proper cable on hand to use the TV as a monitor in our condo or to use my laptop as a monitor for the transfer. 

Club Intrawest, a members-only condo hotel is located on the upper floors of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. We’re on the top floor, the penthouse level, on the 30th floor.

We’ve decided to take a walk to a nearby computer repair store which is 500 meters from our hotel to have them do the transfer for US $54 rather than spend valuable time trying to find our own solutions. Plus, we’ll have them wipe out the old hard drive and dispose of the laptop.

A flower we spotted on our rainy walk to the grocery store.

With that behind us in the next few days, perhaps we’ll be able to focus on seeing some sights in Vancouver until we board the cruise on Tuesday morning. There just hasn’t been enough time with pouring rain impeding the prospect of going out and enjoying ourselves. 

Last night, we dined in, after a trip to a local grocery store. It was surprising to go on an escalator for the second half of the store’s products. I suppose the locals are used to using the hand baskets, starting upstairs before they load the regular wheeling carts.

Escalator in the grocery store in downtown Vancouver. 

We purchased roasted chicken and salad ingredients. With nuts for dessert, it felt good to stay in to watch a few shows on a rainy night, which we haven’t done in almost two months since leaving Madeira on July 31st. 

Vancouver is a beautiful destination, especially in the warmer summer months with many activities befitting tourists of any age and families with children. Our combined (for two) one-way airfare from Boston was only US $346, much less than we’ve paid for many other flights, making it affordable for travel.

As we’ve seen thus far, it is expensive in Vancouver, especially in the downtown area, where we’re staying.  We’ve heard on CruiseCritic.com that staying in hotels outside the city is much less expensive. 

Beautiful flowers lined the boulevard in Vancouver.

However, we’re definitely enjoying the views from downtown and have no regrets that we’re staying here.  Besides, we can see the cruise terminal from our condo which is a short cab ride away. Many cruisers at CruiseCritic.com have mentioned taking a bus to the cruise terminal on Tuesday. With our heavy luggage, we prefer to take a taxi. 

On departure day at the cruise terminal, our checked baggage is immediately whisked away from our taxi to our cabin, leaving us with only a few carry on items to handle until the cabin is prepared for us to move in, usually by 1:00 or 1:30 pm.

Here is an excellent link to information about Vancouver. Most likely, we’ll return here someday when we take a spring cruise to Alaska, hopefully staying for a few months. Alaska is on our “must-do” list but, doing so is far down the line. We have more countries and continents to visit after leaving Hawaii before we travel the US. 

Here are some Vancouver facts from the above website:

Based on 2006 Canadian Census reports, the population of the City of Vancouver in 2010 is estimated at 601,203.
Greater Vancouver’s estimated total population for 2010 is 2.4 million, 52.3% of BC’s population of 4.6 million.

Federal government departments provide service in English and French, but most of the population speaks English as either a first or second language.

The City of Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because the city is multicultural, it’s also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.
After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino), and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver’s school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English.

We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency when traveling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants, and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

    • Canadian one dollar coin (“loonie”) ($) = 100 cents
    • Canadian two dollar coin (“toonie”) ($) = 200 cents
    • Notes are in denominations of $1000, $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
    • Coins are in denominations of $2, $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05, $0.01 

Effective April 1, 2013, most purchases in British Columbia will be subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with the exception of liquor (10% GST). For more information, visit Changes to the Sales Tax in British Columbia.

Time Zone
Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone. Daylight savings time is in effect from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting www.TimeAndDate.com, which also can provide a Canadian calendar.
Greater Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The main workdays are Monday to Friday, from roughly 8:00 am to 6:00 pm – but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm each
day-except Thursday and Friday, when they are open until 9:00 pm. A number of large retail stores, nearly every hotel and motel, and several restaurants remain open around the clock.”

As we sit in the Member’s Lounge each day, preparing the next post which we’ve now scheduled to arrive for our readers by 5:00 am mountain time, we feel comfortable and at ease with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything, other than get the computer repaired, do laundry on Monday and pack once again.

Hopefully soon, we’ll pack up Tom’s two laptops into the waterproof duffel bag, grab an umbrella from the front desk and make our way to the computer repair store, hoping to achieve his objectives. Tomorrow’s forecast is for a sunny day. We’ll see if that works out.

Back tomorrow with more photos of Vancouver! Stay tuned!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2013:

Tom drank two bottles of this local Tusker beer. You’d have to carry me out if I drank two of these. I’m often tempted to have a drink but having anything with alcohol, as seldom as I do, results in outrageous hangovers from two of anything. Plus, one is no fun! Click here for more photos.

Vancouver is amazing!…Who knew?…Love the city and our accommodations…

View from the comfy chairs in the Member’s Lounge at our hotel.
Another view from the private Member’s Lounge where we’re spending time online.  What a view!

We never expected Vancouver, British Columbia to be such a beautiful city. Nor did we expect the vacation rental we selected for the six nights to be on the penthouse level with such awesome views. 

Comfortable bedding, bed, and pillows invite good night’s sleep, only to find us awake long before sunrise.

The condo unit is much more lovely than we’d anticipated. It’s actually pristine with the finest of amenities, décor, and comfort. The sheets are at least 1000 pt. Egyptian cotton, the bed a heavenly cloud, the towels, soft and fluffy, and the view, amazing!

Another view of the condo.

These past two nights, we lay in bed with the drapes open to the sparkling lights of the city, relishing in every moment. We only closed them when we knew we’d regret leaving them open when sleep is needed in the early morning as we make an effort to combat a bit of jet lag.

The living area in our penthouse condo.

Yesterday morning, we dined in the beautiful dining room of the Sheraton complex which includes, at the top is the unique Club Intrawest, a membership facility with any perks we’re thoroughly enjoying. We’re so happy we chose this property. 

Although there’s no stove, the microwave can be used. We won’t eat in while here since we rarely eat anything that requires reheating other than our homemade leftovers. We’ve either dined on the past cruise or eaten in a restaurant over the past 50 days. In 27 days we’ll be able to cook our meals again.

At US $211 per night including free WiFi, (maid service only every three days) we were pleasantly surprised when we’ve heard that Vancouver has a reputation for being expensive in the tourist areas. We can’t dispute that. It is expensive.

The living area in our condo.

The buffet was pricey at US $32 each. Tom wasn’t thrilled with the selection of cold cereals and muffins but, did enjoy the fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and pancakes. 

The shower is actually twice as large as shown.

I absolutely loved my perfect breakfast of a suitable frittata made with organic free-range eggs and organic veggies. I thought I was in heaven with a huge portion and a pile of smoky bacon, a few veggies, and cheese on the side.

Dining area in the hotel.  We’ll be dining outside the hotel in most instances.

We hardly ate anything on a travel day when no food was served on the two flights (unlike flights in other countries) and our appetites were begging to be fulfilled. 

My breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant.

We devoured the tiny packs of peanuts the flight attendants served plus almonds and cheese Phyllis had packed for us. Nothing on the flight’s menu of to-be-purchased items worked for me or appealed to Tom. No big deal.  Missing a few meals didn’t hurt either of us.

Décor in the hotel lobby.

As we’ve relaxed in the private Member’s Lounge, we had an opportunity to speak to two very helpful concierges who provided us with maps, directions, and lists of “to-do” items within walking distance. 

Hotel lobby.
Thirty floors to our condo.  Twenty-nine floors to the Member’s Lounge.

Soon, we’ll take off on foot borrowing an umbrella from the hotel to find a grocery store for a few items and to check out the local restaurants. There’s a laundromat within four blocks that we’ll visit in a few days as we contemplate packing for the upcoming cruise on Tuesday. 

Upon entering the Member’s Lounge where we’re provided with fast free WiFi access which we also have in our condo.

As we’re sitting in the fat stuffed comfy leather chairs in this beautifully appointed Member’s Lounge overlooking downtown Vancouver and the ocean, we’re living in the moment, loving “the one you’re with,” not thinking much further than the nose in front of our faces.

Wood carving in the Member’s Lounge.

Years ago, if I had a six-day trip to Vancouver been my “vacation” for the year, I’d have been content. Pinch me! I must be dreaming…or as they say, “living a dream.” Whatever it is, we are humbled. We are grateful.

Keep it coming.

                                             Photo from one year ago, September 19, 2013:

Instead of steel construction support posts for support in Kenya they use stripped tree branches. We were amazed by how they improvised with what they had on hand. For details of this post, please click here.

New time zone in Vancouver…Posting time changes upcoming…

Like Seattle, it rains a lot in Vancouver. Today is very cloudy. This is the view from our beautiful condo in downtown Vancouver. More photos will follow tomorrow. 

In the past 18 days since leaving London, we’ve had an overall nine hour time change.  I don’t care what other seasoned travelers say, one good night’s sleep doesn’t necessarily fix it.

For most of us, one’s biological clock must gradually adjust to the differences. We’ve been awakening between 4:00 am and 5:00 am and crashing by 11:00 pm. Other than the sleeping issues, we feel fine. 

It hit me this morning that I usually post before most readers in the US and other countries are awake and there we were, available to read first thing each morning. 

Many have written to us explaining that each morning, they grab their cup of coffee or tea and sit down to read the most recent post.

As we continue to work our way west toward Hawaii, we are going to make adjustments to compensate for these time differences.

Thus, this little blurb is all you’ll see today. However, tomorrow morning a new post about our unbelievably wonderful accommodations in Vancouver will be awaiting you and will continue to be available each morning going forward from this point on.

Happy day to all!
                                        Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2013:

Hans, the owner of the house we rented in Kenya, took us to the construction site where he’s building vacation condos. It was eye-opening for life and work in Africa. For details from that date, please click here.