Jun112011

O Canada! – Seattle to TBEX Vancouver

Four days in Seattle and the sun was out for about 30 minutes. Two words for Seattle: Happy Hour. Seattle does Happy Hour like no other place I have been. Seattle is a great city for a hotel guy since virtually every major hotel offers Happy Hour with reasonable drink and food prices. Hanging out in upscale hotels takes less than $10 for a bar snack and beer. These are places like the Four Seasons, Marriott Waterfront, and Doubletree Arctic Club.

Art Restaurant at Four Seasons Seattle

The Four Seasons Art Restaurant offers a view of Puget Sound. Just mentally block out the view of the low rise public storage building between the hotel restaurant windows and the ocean scenery.  The $6 food and drink happy hour from 4-7 pm Sunday-Thursday makes the Four Seasons  accessible to the middle class traveler.

You can actually eat out in this town for less than the cost of cooking at home. My favorite cheap ass meal had to be while waiting for the bus downtown at Marion and 3rd at lunch hour when I spied a Pakistani restaurant with a line flowing out the door. I ordered the daily lentil soup special and received a bowl of soup and naan bread for a pittance of cash.  Lunch was a $1.71 and certainly more nutritious than the $1 menu at McDonald’s. Receiving quarters as a Seattle panhandler can actually add up to a meal rather quickly – or a beer.

Seattleites – what is up with paying for a bus when you board in the morning, but paying when you get off the bus in the afternoon?

The Arctic Club Seattle, a DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton

Walrus sculptures of Seattle’s historic Arctic Club building, a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. The Arctic Club was formed by Klondike Gold Rush veterans who returned to Seattle with wealth.

Amtrak Cascades

I made a last minute decision to ditch my car 55 miles from Vancouver in Bellingham, Washington and take Amtrak into Canada for the Travel Blog Exchange conference.  A roundtrip Amtrak ticket cost $37 and seven days parking at $30 seemed like the most sensible option compared to the $35 a day to park at the hotel in downtown Vancouver where I am staying four nights.

As the train slowly moved around Mud Bay, just north of the U.S./Canada border, several bald eagles were seen flying around the train.

O Canada! You welcomed me with a beautiful sight and good omen for the days to come.

Mud Bay Canada bald eagles

Several bald eagles were hanging out around Mud Bay and some flew within 100 feet of the train.

In Vancouver the train disembarks one car at a time for immigration control. By the luck of the draw, I was the second to last of the 276 passengers to pass through Canada’s passport control.

Stepping into the light of day revealed a city going wild with anticipation for Game 5 of Stanley Cup ice hockey finals between Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins in a 2-2 tied series. I estimate at least 10% of the thousands of people wandering the city wore Vancouver Canucks jerseys.

Vancouver Canucks fan

The Skytrain is the city rail system in Vancouver and the Main Street SkyTrain station is a few hundred feet from the Pacific Central train station.

The SkyTrain ticket cost is $2.50 for anywhere in the downtown Vancouver area. There is a $5 surcharge for YVR airport. SkyTrain ticket machines take credit cards which was convenient since I hadn’t arrived with any Canadian money.

The train takes only a few minutes to get to the main Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.

Pacific Central train station in Vancouver seen from SkyTrain Main Street staion.

Friday afternoon was wild with Granville Street, one of the main downtown streets in Vancouver, closed for the evening to vehicle traffic for the Stanley Cup Game 5 finals street party. I was a Canucks fan for the night.

Vancouver Stanley Cup Game 5 party

Vancouver police were out in force and busted dozens of people on the street for alcohol.

Beer going down the Vancouver drain as police enforce Granville Street ban on alcohol.

There was no need to even see the hockey game as the crowd of thousands roared at 7:20pm when the Vancouver Canucks scored a goal in the third period.

Granville Street, Vancouver Stanley Cup Game 5

The lone Vancouver goal resulted in the 1-0 win to take the Canucks to a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup series. Fans partied late into the night and the streets were even more crowded three hours after the game.

Victory celebration in Stanley Cup Game 5 Vancouver

 

What a kick-off to TBEX 2011 in the happy city of Vancouver!

And tonight's going to be a good night.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. A great post Ric. I really liked the link on the Doubletree Arctic Club Seattle. I did not even know about this hotel, and it looks more along the lines of a high end Hilton or Conrad. Do you know when Hilton took over this hotel?

  2. Glad you like Seattle! Still no sun today, though. Summer starts July 4th here, like clockwork.

    “Seattleites – what is up with paying for a bus when you board in the morning, but paying when you get off the bus in the afternoon?”

    It’s all about keeping good flow with the commute. And, the core of downtown is a ride-free area before 7pm, so if you board downtown you don’t pay.

  3. ric, only the Canada Line, from Waterfront to the Airport or Richmond, is new for the Olympics last year. The other lines date back to the early eighties. Hope you enjoy Vancouver!!! If you go out for a walk and make it around the False Creek area near the Monk McQueen’s restaurant, I’ll buy you a beer at the Wicklow pub next door!

  4. Oh dear. What is it with Americans to have such difficulties to get their facts straight? The Skytrain in Vancouver, the line that runs past the train station, has absolutely nothing to do with the 2010 Olympics. That is a different line, with a different technical system, non-compatible with the one experienced, and opened in 2009. The one past the station was opened in 1985, just before Expo ’86, one of the “small” world’s fairs. Get that?

  5. @maxe – Don’t blame Americans for my ignorance and lack of research on the SkyTrain.

    The difficulty for this American getting his facts straight was many free beers Friday night and the desire to write a blog post early Saturday morning before the start of TBEX meetings.

    I never rode the SkyTrain or even noticed it on my four other trips to Vancouver since 1999. The talk about SkyTrain being ready for the Olympics last year between the airport and downtown led to my assumption that the entire system was new.

    Thanks for pointing out my error.

    Go Canucks Go.

  6. Ric, Lauren had it partially correct: the ride free zone is only free if your trip is wholly within the zone. As such, buses coming into the zone collect fares upon boarding, and buses leaving the zone collect when you alight. If you’re travelling through the zone, you’ll pay on boarding and use a transfer (they are all electronic now, and use the Orca card) to alight. After the ride free zone ends at 7 PM, or for bus routes that never enter the zone at all, all fares should be collected on boarding, although it’s not always 100% consistent depending on your driver. Hope this helps!

  7. Whatever it is worth: never drive or write articles while under the influence of alcohol, or substances…

    Grin…

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