Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Seattle-Vancouver-Victoria Trip

My vacations are usually rushed. My theory is that it’s better to see everything that a destination has to offer since we never know if we’d be able to go back there. But with my parents (who didn’t have Canadian visas), 2 kids and a wife who thinks vacations are for relaxing and not running around, I didn’t think I’d do as much as I would like to, on this trip to Seattle and Vancouver. But eventually we did everything that we had planned and then some!

Day 1
With Vancouver as the ultimate destination, we flew to Seattle since we had to get the Canadian visa for my parents. Getting the Canadian visas turned out to be a smooth affair and my parents had the visas in their hands by 1 pm. We then visited the Space Needle and Pike Place Market in Seattle. The former afforded some great views of the city and the surrounding areas (though Kavya had more fun at the ‘Fun Forest’, with a bunch of kiddie rides, that was right next door) while the latter, a market open since 1910, offered a nice walk and a slice of history (the original Starbucks is located here and some of the shops, open since the market opened, have photographs of how the place looked back then).

Day 2
We had originally planned to drive up to Vancouver but based on Filbert’s recommendation, we decided to spend another day in Seattle and drove to Mt.Rainier National Park. It was a great day and so we had some gorgeous views of the snow-capped peak of the mountain and as a bonus, got to see a couple of nice waterfalls too (Narada Falls was really beautiful and the 0.7 mile walk down to see it in its full glory could technically be called Kavya’s first hike!). We then drove to Vancouver that night.

Day 3
In Vancouver, our first stop was the Capilano Suspension Bridge, where walks across the swaying bridge and between tree tops were rather unique experiences. We then drove to downtown for a walk through historic Gastown, the oldest area in Vancouver. The Steam Clock, which runs on steam and whistles every quarter hour, was the highlight of the relaxing walk through the streets there. Kavya’s favorite though was a ‘Dinosaurs in Gastown’ exhibition, where she dug for fossils at a dig site and saw dino skeletons and an animatronic T-Rex.

Day 4
Rain confined us to our hotel rooms in the morning but it cleared up by the afternoon and we went to Grouse Mountain, which is called Vancouver’s peak. A cable car took us to the top of the mountain for great views, a lumberjack show (where Karthik, by virtue of being the youngest member of the audience, got to go down and win a cute, hand-crafted chair!) and a grizzly bear habitat. There were a couple of other shows we wanted to see but it got really chilly and we opted to head back. We then drove to downtown again where this time, we drove around Chinatown and stopped at the Dr.Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese garden.

Day 5
We made a 1-day trip by ferry to Victoria. There we visited Butchart Gardens, which was truly a feast for the eyes. The different varieties of plants and flowers, in dazzling colors, were truly stunning. This was the only place where Karthik sat in his stroller quietly for 2 hours straight since the bright colors really caught his attention! Our next stop was the Butterfly garden, which had a lot of free-flying butterflies in some colorful settings. After that we drove to downtown Victoria, where we visited Miniature World. It was a place we strolled into only because we had time but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The miniature recreations of famous wars, the Canadian railways, castles, fairy tales, etc were really cool and the recreation of an entire fair with working ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, etc. was stunning.

Day 6
We had planned to drive back to Seattle in the morning but decided to visit Stanley Park, which is pretty high on the list of must-visit Vancouver attractions. The word ‘park’ doesn’t really do justice to the place though. We drove around the huge park for some nice views (the best view coming from Prospect Point, the highest point in the park), went for a ride on a miniature train and took Kavya to the farmyard (a petting zoo). From there, we drove back to Seattle. The long wait at US Customs and the Seattle traffic put us through some tense moments and after rushing through the airport, we made it to the gate just as the boarding announcements started.

Some photos from the trip can be seen here.


At 10:34 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Welcome back to blogworld, Balaji. Quite some people missed you out here :)
Nice to know that you had a pleasant picturesque trip. Am still picture-browsing ..

At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great to have you back balaji. a kutti yudham almost started cos of your absence.

vancouver is a fine place to visit. its got something for everyone. glad you and your family had a good time.


At 12:56 AM, Blogger Rajesh Thiagarajan said...

I gather you had a very good vacation. Good to see you back.

About the Capilano Suspension Bridge - did you find any cantilever bridges? The reason I ask is that at the Otway Tree Top Walk, Victoria, Australia (swaying bridges on tree tops) there was one such cantilever bridge - I was scared to death on that. Anything similar?


At 5:11 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Great pictures and welcome back, Balaji. Looks like you have put your new camera to full use :) The pictures from Butchart Gardens were awesome. Glad that you didnt miss Mt. Rainier. My first recommendation to visitors to Seattle.

At 5:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice pictures Balaji. Hope you enjoyed the S3 IS experience :D

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice descriptions and awesssommmeee pics, bb...looks like u had a blast...! periya shutterbug-aa maariteenge ponge! pics elaam kalakkings...!

At 9:10 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...


Welcome Back and looks like you had a great trip and covered quite a bit. Many pictures reminded us of our trip to Vancouver-Victoria last year, especially the Butchart Gardens. I would love to go there any number of times.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger KK said...

Welcome back!
Awesome post a with some amazing pictures. All the places looked really inviting...especially Mt. Rainier seemed an interesting place...

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Never knew you were coming to Canada!!:) Isn't it a wonderful place???.....Nehow, I'm going to Vancouver for a visit soon too, so was a nice suprise to see your blog.......Tell me of more things I can do while I'm there....any special restaurants? If I'm to stay for about ten days, what should my budget be, do you think?? Your info would be much appreciated!!


concerned about, you should give him some advice bout finding other hobbies......heheh .......ram, befor you blow a fuse, j/k man, peace\/

At 11:21 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

Bart, thanx! definitely feels nice to be missed :)

gayathri, thanx! and yes, this trip had something for everyone from the oldest to the youngest :)

rajesh, had to brush up my physics to answer than one! but no, there was no cantilever bridge here. capilano sways a bit, esp. when its windy and when people r running. but the bridges between the trees r pretty short and sturdy :)

filbert, special thanx to u. we're so glad we went to mt.rainier. but couldn't squeeze in snoqalmie falls. it was a toss up betn that and stanley park and as i wrote, we went with the latter :)

ferrari, yep totally enjoyed it. i actually used up my 512MB card for the 1st time :)

ram, thanx :)

mitr, thanx. i never would've imagined that a garden would interest me that much. but u're right. i could definitely go back there a number of times :)

kk, thanx. yeah, mt.rainier national park is a great place. and we looked at a tiny fraction of it. based on the map, there are a number of trails, waterfalls, etc.

babs, everyone who has looked at the pics noticed the clarity and vibrant colors. i didn't use the manual controls much. macro, forcing the flash and taking pictures in 'foliage' mode were pretty much the only extra settings i used apart from the AUTO setting! there was 1 place in the butterfly garden when i had trouble focusing. but barring that, there were no issues. am completely happy with the camera :)

anon, yep, it was a wonderful place. the only indian restaurant we visited was 'bombay bhel' in downtown. great food. all the dishes were awesome. and for 10 days, itd be a pretty big budget i think since all the places r pretty expensive. and apart from the things i did, the 'barnaby museum' sounded like a good place that i wanted to go to but didn't have the time...

At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon...check out "The Green Lettuce"....Awesome Indian chinese food!..and they serve HUGE portions.

Drive along west marine drive, a visit to the UBC campus, Breakfast of croissants at English Bay are some of the must-do things....

Vancouver rocks....(when its not raining!)

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Rajesh &Shankari said...

sounds like u had a gr8 trip

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji,as always amazed by how you guys do it i.e. arrange, plan and then take quite a big gang of folks on trips like these. I feel lazy enough to plan a trip for two

Just one thing, do you refer to any specific sites to book hotels/look for spots to visit in each city or base it on word-of-mouth info? I am guessing it is a combo of both but just wanted to know from you since you seem to be an experienced traveller

also when you travel with elder folks do you guys stay at places where its possible to cook some food or you take food with you?

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

vijay, i usually check expedia and for hotels. once i decide on the hotel, i also go to its website to compare rates. as for spots to visit, i simply do a search, read up on the places and decide where to go. i also browse thro some books on the places...

finding kitchenettes is tough. but i only pick hotels with microwaves and refrigerators. though thats mainly for the kids, it helps when elders r there too :)

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, thanks for replying

At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice pictures. I just made a trip to vancouver too and went to almost the same places as you did (didn't drive though, but took the tour for one day and explored the city on my own with public transportation). Posted some pictures on my blog. I didn't have enough time to visit Victoria although I really wanted to see the Miniature world!. I saw only one photo from Miniature world, did you take more?

p.s btw, the paraaz site today
(prev riya) doesn't seem to be useful from firefox browser at all. I tried it, found it very slow, and then went back to flickr.

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