Majestic And Beautiful

There are 184 photographs I took while travelling Canada. Clicking on any of the below thumbs gets you to the respective gallery.

Banff gallery
Alberta Gallery
British Columbia gallery
British Columbia Gallery
Ontario gallery
Ontario Gallery
Vancouver gallery
Vancouver Gallery
British Columbia gallery
Whistler Gallery

It was a Television show, what else, which lead me to Canada in 1997 for the first time. Due South was the reason to travel the TransCanada Highway - from Toronto to Vancouver in 4 weeks.

It was one of those organised travels, in fact a bus-round-trip, well rather a bus-once-through-trip. In order to have a bit more time at Toronto and not to be thrown directly into the group chaos I flew in two days earlier. The Indian taxi driver who brought me from the airport to the hotel was exceptionally courteous and lovely and explained to me what I must see.

At 4 am the following day I awoke; certainly because of excitement and also because of curiosity. Quickly dressed I went down to the lobby to undertake my first scouting trip. That went a bit more extended than I had originally planned. I walked from the hotel for 2 hours with the direction harbour. Toronto is the city in which you feel absolutely save. Do you know that feeling when someone is following you in the street and you do not know what this person wants from you? This was non-existent here even not so early in the morning where the streets were completely empty and only occasionally you ran into some folks.

I have to mention that I took my video camera and not the still camera for this trip. The videos or parts of it will be available on this page quite soon.

I did a boat tour on the Ontario lake and went up the CN Tower from where you have a great view across the lake. A bit worrisome are the glass floors from where you look 342 metres straight down to the street. It has something of a space feeling somehow.

At the following day the organised part started. Of course you are not as free as if you would travel on your own. But it has the advantage that you get to see stuff you can only get with a group. Thus for example at Regina at the Royal Mounted Police (Mounties); we were lucky enough that a class had graduated and the freshly graduated were game for the tourists cameras. You also always have at least this one person who constantly complains about rather wanting to be at a hotel's pool or wanting to dine. Such people I usually ignore because when I book a bus round trip I want to see things not to sit at a pool or eat. If I want that I book a journey to Mallorca or Turkey whereas I think it is also a pity not to see anything of the country, the real people and the culture there.

We visited Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefield, a for me personally important visit to a Native reservation, numerous museums and of course this grand landscape of the mountains in the west where sometimes a bear runs across the road. You will certainly see mountain goats, elks and deer which often are simply grazing at the roads' sides. With a bit of luck you will see a bold eagle or a fishing eagle; their nests can be seen quite in time. The middle of Canada, also called the corn chamber mostly consists, well of corn fields, sometimes in plain lands, sometimes in hillsides. I have never been to Quebec but it is on my list. I also want dearly to visit the north west of the country - but then on my own.

The mountain ranges in the west have much to offer and during a bus trip you certainly will only see parts of it. What you note instantly is the great colour the lakes have; either deeply blue or turquoise. Sometimes you are overrun by other tourists (Lake Louise) and at other times you are completely on your own (Gray Provincial Park, where the bus has to drive backwards up the hill at one of the sharp curves).

Although I liked Toronto very much Vancouver is and always will be my favourite city. Since Vancouver lays in a fjord the water plane taxi is one of the typical means of transport. Moreover the city has a great public transportation system with subways, busses and the Seabus, which brings you from the Canada Place (you may certainly have seen in moves or travel documentaries), which looks like a sailing boat to North Vancouver. There are, like in any other big cities, the so called Hop on / Hop off Trolleys for tourists which visit all the attractions. You hop off where you want to stay for a while and hop onto the next to get to see the next attraction. And Vancouver has loads of attractions to offer.

Whether you want to cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge or to visit Granville Island (very overrun), I recommend definitely the Museum of Anthropology of the Vancouver University. Stanley Park offers the well-known totems and you have a nice view of downtown Vancouver. At Gastown you can eat excellently at the Spaghetti Factory and prices are moderate or you stroll along the shopping streets. Worth seeing is also the Horseshoe Bay which lays a bit outward to the west of Vancouver and with a bit of luck you get to see a ferry arriving along with one of those endlessly long trains.

At Vancouver North you will find the film studios which also gave it the nickname Hollywood North. Many of the US television shows are shot at Vancouver. When I was at Vancouver in 1998 for the second time I constantly ran into closed off roads and among others the small observatory at the Vancouver museum I had planned to visit and which was blocked by the Stargate SG1 crew. Whether the X-Files or Supernatural, Outer Limits or Millenium, The Sentinel or Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica and Eureca; all are television shows shot at Vancouver. One of the hints that something is shot on location are generally the big trucks you could put the name "film" on just by seeing them in the streets. Coming back to the small observatory, I still have not managed to visit it. In 2008 it was blocked by the A Town called Eureka crew. Well, I'm curious who will be in it the next time.

Vancouver has changed a lot over the course of the 10 years I haven't visited it. In 1998 the Harbour Tower dominated the cite centre and could be seen from everywhere. In 2008 this is no longer the case. Many new high buildings have changed the city's image but do not disturb it. In 1998 you could have a halfway payable rented place at Vancouver; nowadays it has become very expensive. In 2010 Canada has the winter games. The entire Olympic village is built right in the middle of Vancouver but also adapts to the city's image. All in all Vancouver is always worth to be visited.

Of course you could also go to the Pacific Bus Station to take the bus to Victoria (is a day-long tour) and visit Butchart Gardens. The crossover with the ferry is included in the ticket.

If you want to do an organised bus round trip yourself but have not done one before, here are some tips:

  • Generally you have to get up quite early - between 6 and 7 am and this every day.
  • The suitcase (and it should only be one as slight as possible) is picked up at a certain time you get told by the tour guide the evening before from in front of you hotel room. It then is brought by the hotel people to the bus. This happens before you go to breakfast.
  • Not all is included! There are so called facultative trips which are most often quite interesting. For example flights with the water plane or the trip to the Columbia Icefields, a trip in a rubber boat down a not so wild river etc. Those trips are all extra. You should calculate a few hundred Euros for this.
  • Do not eat at the hotel (also valid for the USA). It is much too expensive. Rather go outside and look right, look left. There will be a coffee shop for sure close by. There you can have a cheaper breakfast and you get what your heart desires. Most of the hotels have only, especially for groups, those breakfast buffets with fruits from cans and cold toast.
  • Count in the tips for the bus driver and the tour guide. Generally it is 1 - 2 Dollars per day for each.
  • Please wait to be seated is not meant to anger tourists or to have a noble look. I saw many mostly German tourists simply seating themselves (absolutely custom in Germany) without getting served which always leads to problems. Other countries, other customs! Like in the USA the tip is part of the waiters' income (thus not like in Germany where waiters have a fixed income including everything and where you give only a tip if you liked the food and the service). This part of the income is about 10 - 15 % of the amount your receipt shows. So that not only one waiter receives this tip and all the others go empty you are seated and thus you have to wait until someone seats you at a table. Many restaurants put the tip already on the bill because too many tourists over the years have not tipped out of not knowing. Thus, when you see a menu outside you have maybe to add the tip amount to it. Check whether the menu and / or the bill have "Service & Gratitude included" standing somewhere. It means that the restaurant has already put it onto your bill.
  • The daily bus trips to the next location can be quite long. Sometimes you only arrive in the evening at your next hotel. Practical clothing and good shoes you should have on the bus. Who knows, maybe you climb up half a mountain at the next stop to get a nice picture. You should also always have a light jacket and a weather proofed jacket on the bus. If necessary you can put them on. Especially when you are in the mountains it can become quite chilly outside. I do not know how many jackets I had to buy during my trips (I definitely remember frozen ears at the Alpine Centre north of Denver in the Rockies). By the way, clever street traders are at those spectacular tourist attractions and sell you fleece jackets (i.e. at Twin Peaks, San Francisco).

England

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